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Flickr is Safer: How we’re building an online community that is safe for all

April 28, 2021

4 Minute Read

Guest post by Holly Lawrence, Trust and Safety Manager at Flickr and SmugMug

When someone asks me about my job or what exactly it is that I do, the first thing that comes out of my mouth is “Ummmmm” while I try to decide how much information to provide them.

Could this person handle a hard truth? Are they a parent? Are kids present and within earshot of the conversation? Do I know anything about their history, any possible trauma or triggers?

“What do you do” was a much easier question for me to answer when I was a police officer. But nowadays, as the Trust and Safety manager for Flickr and SmugMug, I work in what I generally describe as “child safety.” I work diligently, every day, to prevent online child sexual abuse.

Not as simple an answer, nor as easy a conversation.

But no matter how difficult the subject is, it’s even more important to address it. We all used to walk the planet blissfully unaware of one of the most disturbing crises humans perpetuate on each other. But no longer.

At Flickr, not only are we uniquely positioned to combat Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM), but we have the passion, ability, and support to work on a problem which a lot of companies try to minimize and don’t want to speak to. This work starts with our Trust & Safety team, or “digital-first responders,” if you will. They are on the internet’s front lines, and human review, not just automated processes, are key to our success.

Because of the mentally and emotionally taxing nature of this work, my top priority is to ensure the Trust & Safety team is safe and resilient. The entire team works with a therapist who specializes in Trust & Safety work to protect their mental health.

We also have a caring Flickr community who flags content for us to review. Not unlike your own neighborhood, our Flickr community looks out for each other and when something doesn’t seem right, they work collaboratively with us to report concerns, which in turn protects other Flickr members.

All of this work is supported quietly and effectively by Thorn’s amazing product, Safer. Thorn helps companies by building tools to eliminate CSAM from the internet, and by caring for the humans who support this mission. They consider resiliency when creating products and work toward minimizing impact on our digital-first responders. They consult with Trust & Safety teams and therapists to employ best practices in their tools. And not only does Thorn work on a company level, they will work with anyone looking to get a big-picture understanding of what is needed globally to protect these kids.

Because of our Trust & Safety team, our Flickr community, and our phenomenal partners at Thorn, Flickr is able to stand confidently on the front lines fighting CSAM. And by reading this, you’re helping. No matter who you are or what you do, by growing your awareness of the problem at hand and the tools being used to fight it, you’re helping every child stay a little bit safer. 

So keep reading, keep bringing awareness to the difficult topics, and keep the conversation going.


Holly Lawrence spent the majority of her career as a Public Safety Officer with the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety, where she served in the dual role of a police officer and a firefighter. With over 17 years experience with the department, Holly’s favorite time was spent as a Neighborhood Resource Officer in the Crime Prevention Unit. Holly worked with local schools and neighborhood groups on law enforcement and crime prevention issues. Recognizing the lack of resources and training in the digital world, Holly created digital safety training courses to assist law enforcement in how to support and teach kids how to be safe online. Holly brings a passion unparalleled to SmugMug + Flickr as their Trust & Safety Manager. Her and her team’s charter is to ensure that the SmugMug and Flickr platforms are a safe digital place for the millions of users worldwide who share their photographs with family, friends, clients and communities.

For more on Flickr’s efforts and to learn more about how you can help, visit this blog.

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