Flickr is an American image hosting and video hosting service and an online community. It was created by Ludicorp in 2004 and is a popular way for amateur and professional photographers to host high-resolution photos.

Quick Facts


  • Ranked #402th worldwide
  • Active users 112 M
  • Type Media Sharing Networks
  • Launched date Feb 10, 2004
  • Employees 323
  • Headquarters San Francisco, California, U.S.
  • Parent company SmugMug (2018 - present)


Stewart Butterfield British Columbia
Caterina Fake


  • Brand value In 2020 N/A
  • Revenue in 2020 $46.8 b
  • Net loss In 2020 N/A

Current controversies

Current controversiesFlickr selling Creative Commons photos as wall-art prints. (via

Flickr began selling Creative Commons photos through the Wall Art feature on 20 Nov. They soon began receiving criticism for selling photographers’ work for profit without compensating the photographers.

On Dec 19, 2014, Flickr has now decided to pull the entire pool of Creative Commons licensed photos from Flickr Wall Art. They will also be refunding all sales made with those images to date.


CensorshipFlickr is filtering the protest against censorship.. (via

On Jun 12, 2007, in the wake of the rollout of localized language versions of the site, Flickr implemented a user-side rating system for filtering out potentially controversial photos.

Simultaneously, users with accounts registered with Yahoo! subsidiaries in Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Korea were prevented from viewing photos rated "moderate" or "restricted" on the three-part scale used.

Many Flickr users, particularly in Germany, protested against the new restrictions, claiming unwanted censorship from Flickr and Yahoo!

The issue received attention in the German national media, especially in online publications. Initial reports indicated that Flickr's action was a sensible, if unattractive, precaution against prosecution, although later coverage implied that Flickr's action may have been unnecessarily strict.

On Jun 20, 2007, Flickr reacted by granting German users access to "moderate" (but not "restricted") images, and hinted at a future solution for Germany, involving advanced age-verification procedures.

Since Jun 1, 2009, Flickr has been blocked in China in advance of the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

Original Idea

original ideaoriginal idea

Flickr was launched on Feb 10, 2004, by Ludicorp, a Vancouver-based company founded by Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake.

The service emerged from tools created for Ludicorp's Game Neverending, a web-based massively multiplayer online game.

Early versions of Flickr focused on a chat room called FlickrLive, with real-time photo exchange capabilities.

In addition to being a popular website for users to share and embed personal photographs and an online community, on Dec 9, 2004, the service was widely used by photo researchers and by bloggers to host images that they embed in blogs and social media.

Yahoo! acquired Ludicorp and Flickr on Mar 20, 2005. The acquisition reportedly cost $22M to $25M.

Brief History

Feb Flickr was created by Ludicorp.
Mar Raises upload limit to 1MB per photo.
Apr Flickr introduced galleries and photo streams that display your recent photo uploads.
May Created the ability to Tag, Comment, and Delete photos.
Jul Flickr Add Groups.
Aug Organize launched to manage and sort photos.
Dec The service was widely used by photo researchers and by bloggers.
Mar Yahoo! acquired Ludicorp and Flickr, for more than $20M.
Jun All content was migrated from servers in Canada to servers in the United States.
Nov 2B photos.
Jan The Commons launched between Flickr and the Library of Congress.
Apr Flickr Video launched.

Began allowing paid subscribers to upload videos, limited to 90 seconds in length and 150 MB in size.

Jul Partnered with Getty Images.

Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake left Flickr.

Mar Added the facility to upload and view HD videos.
May White House official photographer Pete Souza began using Flickr as a conduit for releasing White House photos.
Sep Flickr releases its first iPhone app.
Oct Flickr adds people tagging.
Sep 5B photos.
Nov Yahoo! is planning to lay off 10% or more of its workforce.
Aug 6B photos
Sep Flickr launches its first Android app.
May Flickr adds Pinterest buttons that pin photos with attribution.
Dec Flickr app for iPhone 2.0 is released, signaling Flickr's re-investment in mobile.
May Flickr redesigns its website, Android app and gives 1TB of free storage.
Aug Flickr refreshes the iPhone app with a new camera and custom filters.
Oct Flickr iPhone app adds auto upload and auto-straightening.
Nov Flickr photo books launched.
Feb 10th Birthday Celebration San Francisco.
Mar Flickr's New Photo Experience, a user interface redesign.
Mar Flickr added the Creative Commons Public Domain Mark and Creative Commons Zero (CC0) to its licensing options.
May Yahoo! overhauled the site, adding a revamped Camera Roll.
Jun Verizon Communications acquired Yahoo!, including Flickr.
Apr SmugMug acquired Flickr.
Jan Non-paying users are only able to upload up to 1000 files free of charge.
May SmugMug announced the migration of Flickr data - 100M accounts.

Network Features


ProfileFlickr profile. (via

Just like any other social network, you get a profile on Flickr where you can upload a user photo and write a brief bio. You can also showcase up to 25 of your favorite photos and collect testimonials from users who are fans of your work.

Flickr Groups

Flickr GroupsFlickr groups. (via

Flickr Groups are a great way to share photos, post comments, ​and hold discussions around a common theme.


AlbumsFlickr albums. (via

Albums are merely a visual grouping of these photos linking together the content on your account. This allows you to add a single photo to multiple albums if desired. You can group photos into albums by date, topic, event, or anything else that feels right to you.

Flickr albums may be organized into "collections", which can themselves be further organized into higher-order collections.

Geotagging can be applied to photos in albums, and any albums with geotagging can be related to a map using “imapflickr”. The resulting map can be embedded in a website.

iMapFlickr is a recently launched application that allows anyone to map Flickr photos on Google Maps and then easily share them online with others.

The favorites feature lets you mark images/videos from other Flickr members that you like. The publisher gets a notification that the picture has been marked as a favorite, and the photo gets added to your Faves folder where you can view it any time.

Galleries are a way to showcase other photographers’ photos and videos.

Flickr photo and video formats

Flickr only supports three mainstream photo formats: JPEG, PNG, and GIF (non-animated). Any other photo format is converted by Flickr into JPEG. In terms of video, Flickr supports a wider array of video formats that include: MP4, AVI, WMV, MOV, MPEG, 3GP, M2TS, as well as the newer formats OGG and OGV.

Flickr also offers the ability to access multiple sizes of the same photo.

Exchangeable Image File (EXIF) data is a standard supported by many cameras and smartphones that embeds metadata in a file. The following figure illustrates a series of EXIF fields displayed on a Flickr photo.

EXIF fields for a photo can include a camera's aperture & exposure time, as well as things like a photo's date and geolocation.

Content Filters

Let others know more about your images by using Safety Levels and Content Type. There are 2 types:

Safety Level Safe - Content suitable for a global, public audience. Moderate - If you're not sure whether your content is suitable for a global, public audience but you think that it doesn't need to be restricted per se, this category is for you. Restricted - This is content you probably wouldn't show to your mum, and definitely shouldn't be seen by kids.

Content Typec Photos/Videos. Illustration/Art /Animation/CGI or other non-photographic images. Screencasts/Screenshots - what's a screenshot.


The licensing options primarily include the Creative Commons 2.0 attribution-based and minor content-control licenses - although jurisdiction and version-specific licenses cannot be selected.

As with "tags", the site allows easy searching of only those images that fall under a specific license.

Several museums and archives post images released under a "no known restrictions" license, which was first made available on Jan 16, 2008.

White House official photographer Pete Souza began using Flickr as a conduit for releasing White House photos. Flickr later created a new license that identified them as "United States Government Work", which does not carry any copyright restrictions.

The Public Domain Mark is meant for images that are no longer protected by copyright. Creative Commons Zero (CC0) is used for works that are still protected by copyright or neighbouring rights, but where the rights holders choose to waive all those rights.


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