LiveJournal Deleting User Accounts Dubiously, Again

Does anyone know how old Mickey Mouse is? Old enough to go down on Minnie? Just curious. Wow, it’s like meta-meta deja vu in LiveJournalstan: back in May, LiveJournal deleted hundreds of user accounts in a really screwed-up faux pedophilia panic about Harry Potter fanfic — and now they’re doing it all over again. Meta: just like Flickr blocking my account photos (of my cat, vacations, and yes, panty shots) and then unblocking them — and then a couple weeks ago Flickr re-blocked ones they’d officially approved (and still haven’t unblocked my previously-approved photos). Notice a trend here? Nice way to treat communities when community building is supposed to be the heart of your business. Snip:

LiveJournal users who patronize sex-themed Harry Potter fan art and fiction communities–and a host of other concerned users–are revolting a second time over account suspension notices they say are unpredictable and trample on their free-expression rights.
(…) The reason for the deletions? The users’ journal entries contained “drawings depicting minors in explicit sexual situations,” which represented a violation of LiveJournal’s policies, according to copies of the letters posted by their recipients.
In ponderosa121’s case, the offending image depicted an unclothed Harry Potter of ambiguous age receiving oral sex from sometimes-villain Severus Snape. The image posted by elaboration, who describes herself on an external site as a 21-year-old Atlanta sometimes-resident with a fondness for “zombies, pie and cold pizza,” showed the twin brothers of Ron Weasley, Harry’s good friend, in their own intimate moment. There were no ages listed in the fantasy images, however, so they could have been meant to depict the lads when they were 18 years old.
(…) “‘Obscenity’ is the perfect tool to weed out everything that doesn’t fit in a nice, clean, straight, male-dominated and preferably white world,” charged a user named erestor.
“The policy makes LJ an unwelcoming environment for sexual expression and experimentation, which is a change; in the past, LJ has been a valuable environment for many groups who are expressing, experimenting with, or identifying as non-normative sexualities to speak free of constraints which are often backed by patriarchical [sic], racist, classist, or heterosexist behavioral norms,” another user, who goes by the moniker “coffeeandink,” wrote in a recent entry.
To make matters worse, some users have been complaining that a LiveJournal employee named Abe Hassan, who goes by the username burr86, has posted “mocking” statements about fandom communities, which they argue is unprofessional and deserves at least a reprimand.
While apparently on a much smaller scale, the latest episode has fanfic devotees once again encouraging livid LiveJournal users to switch to “clone” sites in protest and to register their discontent through feedback emails.
Update at 5:15 p.m. PST: Some readers have commented below that they’re concerned this report doesn’t reflect the breadth of concern from the LiveJournal community about these incidents.
Let the record reflect, then, that a number of users who wouldn’t consider themselves Potter fans, per se, are fundamentally concerned about the way SixApart has handled these situations in recent months. They’re taking issue with everything from its “customer service” practices to what concerned users argue is an unevenly enforced terms-of-service policy in the first place. Some said they’re not so much concerned about what LiveJournal deems inappropriate as how the company goes about deciding that.

LiveJournal responded yesterday, snip:

After days of silence, the site’s staffers on Tuesday evening published an entry on their business journal in an attempt to clarify the online-journaling server’s policy on “illegal and harmful content.”
In short, the staffers said they don’t review content unless it is reported to them, and when policy violations aren’t “clear,” they congregate members of the site’s Abuse Prevention Team members, LiveJournal staff and parent company Six Apart’s management to make a decision.
In an effort to comply with federal and California child pornography laws, the staffers said they have opted to treat any “graphic visual depiction of a minor…engaged in sexually explicit conduct,” apparently fictional or not, as a policy violation. “Any stated age of the individuals present, the apparent age of the people or characters present in an image, and outside knowledge of the person or character’s age are all taken into consideration,” the staffers wrote.
They also said that besides a “limited number of exceptions,” they’re sticking to a line in their Terms of Service that stipulates that paid LiveJournal accounts aren’t refundable. And as for some user gripes that the offending account holders weren’t warned to remove the violating content before their accounts were suspended, LiveJournal said it cannot continue to host content that would likely violate child pornography laws but said users can appeal their suspensions.


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3 comments on “LiveJournal Deleting User Accounts Dubiously, Again
  1. Unfortunately, LiveJournal’s reply is right in line with the various ambiguous interpretations of state and federal laws regarding child pornograpy, real, imagined or completely falsified. Remember to think of the children…ugh.

  2. What about this?

    Even past the whole “teen porn” thing, you can’t ignore this… this isn’t even a difference in opinion… this is unjustified. If I had a LiveJournal, I’d be scared. I’d save everything on Word. And I’m thanking my lucky stars I haven’t signed up for and LJ yet.

  3. Just think about it this way. As Scooter Libby found, you can be jailed for a very long time for denying involvement in a crime that apparently never actually happened (Or would it have just have been too embarrassing to lock up the real bad guy). So now everyone is scared that even thinking bad thoughts, let alone hosting pics of dubious activities, could soon become a problem.

    LJ isnt really the demon here its the “I’d know it if i see it” subjective definition of pornography that keeps 1000’s of lawyers really happy.

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