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America, February 17, 2007

Flickr Photo Pools: Hacked or Just Gone Mad?!

Something is wrong when ball sack replaces rail track

a new kind of foamer
That's foaming all right
a new kind of foamer
A better breakfast than babes?
a new kind of foamer
Helmets don't help choking
a new kind of foamer
Nice legs, but not mine
This morning I was looking to add a post to Metroblogging DC, the hyper-local view of Washington DC that I love. But when I went to my DC Metroblogger Flickr account to find the transit foamer image I wanted, my web wanderings took an unexpected turn.

When I clicked on my Transit Foamer photo pool, where I have images of public transport options worldwide, I found a whole different kind of foamer staring back at me. Shocked, I refreshed the page, thinking it was a temporary error, but the new "foamer" was still there.

To my relief, when I clicked through, it was my original photo, but back at the photo pool page, the foamer only shifted locations.

Wondering if this was just an isolated glitch, I looked at my other pools, and the beauty of Computex Sales Girls was replaced by a two-egg breakfast. Tasty, for sure, but not like an Asian booth babe matrix.

Quickly, I scanned my other Flikr Photo Pools, and yes, errors there too, like WMATA images replaced by random girls and fruit and San Francisco photos invaded by Tibetan monks and a woman's legs. Annoying, but at least not as shocking as a man's package in panties.

I clicked through on each corrupted image, just to check, and the original photo was there. Somehow, when displaying photo pools, Flickr is mixing up others photographs with my images. Kinda like your peanut butter in my chocolate, but in this case, without the edible result.

So is this a harmless Flickr glitch, to be resolved by lunchtime, or a serious hacker intrusion lasting to sundown? No matter which, who's lewd photographs are corrupting my Flickr pools?

I don't know, but I sure don't like seeing ball sack instead of rail track!

Update: Here is Flickr's official explanation:

Tonight's problem was a result a few of the photocaches going berzerk and instead of returning the correct image file when a particular photo was being requested, it just returning some random image that happened to be in the cache. [...]

We want everyone to understand that there are no permanent problems with any data, we have not been "hacked" and you don't need to do anything in order to have your photos return to normal. In particular, you do NOT need to delete, replace or reupload any photos.

Whew! It's a relief to know people can again safely enjoy way more Wayan on Flickr with only my crazy antics to shock them.

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I'm having the same problem - though not with such risque images. The problem has been intermittent over the last few days. I thought it might be a Firefox problem on my side, but the problem happens with Safari, Netscape and Exploder.

Thank goodness I found another example. I am not crazy. Yeah!

It seems its a Flickr glitch. It happened to me too.

From the Flickr Forums:

7:20 PST -- Staff are aware that there's an issue are working to resolve it - Heather

7:55 PST: Normalcy should be returning. You can Shift + Reload the view of your photostream to force it, but we're also flushing the system from this end. It seems that one of our caching image servers was polluted during a network outage in the wee hours. I just want to reiterate, the site was not hacked! It was a bum image caching server.

If SHIFT + RELOAD isn't doing it here's more help:
From Neofob: "If shift+reload is not enough try instructing the browser to empty the entire cache.

I'm very sorry this happened to you. (The glitch freaked me out. A photo of a naked woman in place of my neice, was a little disconcerting)

I hate to say it, but I'm glad to hear I wasn't the only one. I'm glad that it wasn't someone wanting to screw with my modest family photo album. But still, it is part of the February curse, which of course makes the hairs on my back stand on end. If the offending photos were "normal" in some sense, that would have been odd but not eerie. The ones on my site, were a naked woman, a scary castle and one that looked like something out of the Dawn of the Dead. (May have been a Halloween photo of someone's)
I came over to thank you for taking the time out to explain your experience. It made me feel better, for some reason. (A glitch is obviously nothing personal, like someone hacking into your site)

Thanks again!:-)



We're very sorry for any weirdness that you may have noticed in your account on or around February 17th. We had some difficulty with our photocache servers that led to the appearance that your photos had been replaced with other unfamiliar (and often unwelcome) photos.

Please rest assured that your photos are safe and there was no breach of your account. Eric wrote a FlickrBlog post that covers the issue in more
detail here:

There's also an Official Help Topic should you continue to experience difficulty:


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