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04 August 2007 @ 04:10 am
Part Two - Another Strikethrough?  
There has been hubbub over the Intertubes that after the first incident, charmingly referred to as the Strikethrough, where accounts of LiveJournal members were suspended after posting either art or fictional accounts of underage characters. At least, I believe that was the reasoning. Rolling Stone has a feature on a group that believes LiveJournal should engage in more Strikethrough-type activities, as well as the television show, To Catch a Predator.

Anyway, according to accounts being spread across the Internet, it appears that a second round of suspensions are underway, these permanent, non-appealable, and supposedly spread to other accounts that may be using the same e-mail address for verification. All such bans are also apparently non-reversible. User ponderosa121 and user elaboration are two of the more cited suspensions, but there may be more involved. The community named "pornish_pixies" has been warned about the appearance of art in violation of LiveJournal policy, likely the two pieces that resulted in the bans mentioned above. As a result of said warning, they have decided to lock the community and enforce age verification standards.

While one post about the first Strikethrough incident seemed clear and said “This was the actions of overzealous persons. Policies are under review, and we will communicate to you what we have made decisions on. Your fictional content, however, should be protected under United States Constitutional guarantees of free speech”, another seemed to say “This is the beginning of the new era of LiveJournal - all those posting material of underage persons will be banned without warning.” I may be putting words and intentions in the mouths of those two posters. Take all I say with at least one grain of salt. User "stormcloude" inquired as to which of these we should believe, and received a response that said, in essence, "The Second". (While stormcloude made the request, the response has been copied over to bubble_blunder’s journal, for purposes of maintaining and updating a list of current events.) The LiveJournal Abuse Team appears to have declared themselves the sole arbiters of what meets the standard of “artistic merit”, which, according to the Terms of Service, is within their right to do. Several users have asked whether LiveJournal would be smarter in deferring to established case law regarding what falls under obscenity versus what falls under child pornography, and synecdochic offers an excellent summary of what sort of legal environment has developed that makes this an issue. Matters of text have precedent behind them. Images, which appear to be the targets of the suspensions, regardless of the fictionality of the characters, or even perhaps their actual ages, are not as well-protected.

The facet of the current exercise noted most prominently is that rather than having their journal name struck through, indicating a journal that no longer exists, the user name appears, without the LiveJournal icon, in bold, and the name itself is hidden from several views, in such a way that casual glances may overlook the fact that someone has gone missing. This suggests the malice end of the spectrum. If LiveJournal is deliberately engaging in subterfuge or deception and hiding those affected by things determined to be Terms Of Service violations, it does not reflect well on how high the parent company, SixApart, holds their customer base. As with the last incident, there has been rumbling about packing up and moving to a different service, one with better Terms of Service. The difficulty in this scenario being that unless a significant amount of users decide to move elsewhere, there will be very little effect and business will continue as usual. In a twisted sort of way, one might see it as the start of a pastor’s famous poem.

It is unknown as to whether or not there have been more abuse reports made and whether there will be more suspensions and warnings issued. It does not go un-noticed by this particular writer that this difficulty began after the acquisition of LiveJournal by SixApart. New boss, new rules, new environment. There is, of course, the free choice to move elsewhere, the choice of staying along for the ride and either spinning the Russian Roulette of not being noticed, or the choice of simply not posting or being around material that could result in abuse notifications and a prompt ejection from LiveJournal. As noted in the comments, this last option is much like trying to avoid spoilers for the last Harry Potter book until one reads it - it’s not impossible, but it does require significant effort to achieve. And that’s before any arguments about shifting definitions or standards as to what’s a bannable offense. Until otherwise noted, it appears that Zero Tolerance is the standard from now on. Which does not bode well for anyone.

liz_marcs has begun a cataloging of events, as well as offering options for those wishing to move to a new service. bubble_blunder is also maintaining a listing of events and related materials as they develop. (Two sources, one location. Huzzah for aggregation, or something.)

If there has been anything reported incorrectly, inaccurately, or the situation has changed and I haven’t noticed, feel free to comment, or, if you’re on my reading list, to post it to your own journal. I should pick it up. I’m not sure whether to maintain a single posting unit with a complete-as-far-as-I-know chronology, or to simply add updates as new information arrives. In either case, stay tuned. And if you haven’t invested in a journal back-up program, now may be an excellent time to do so. Just in case.
 
 
Current Mood: inquisitve
Current Music: Haibane Renmei - Rustle
 
 
 
SPark, the Purple Dragonbladespark on August 4th, 2007 08:39 am (UTC)
The one thing that I'd like to note is that when it comes to "the choice of simply not posting material that could result in abuse notifications and a prompt ejection from LiveJournal." one has to make the choice to stay FAR, far, far away from any such material, because livejournal refuses to concretely define what constitutes such material, and thus one is risking a ban if one strays anywhere near what's been banned for already.

I don't particularly like that. This whole thing was sparked by fundamentalist types who have a certain rigid morality, feeling that they are ridding the world of harmful predators who break the rules of their specific morality. But the fact that they are targeting fanfiction, which has nothing to do with actual predation in any way, means they don't really care if somebody is a predator or not.

I, and many others here on lj, do not conform to all of that afore-mentioned rigid morality. And I just have to wonder... first they went after predators, then they went after under-age fan fiction, what comes next? I do not discuss them in detail, but I do have things in my interests that do not fit such rigid standards, and may even technically represent illegal activities. People have been banned merely for listing a specific interest or combination of interests before.

It's one of those things were it's really impossible to say where it will stop. Will it just be pedophilia that remains the bannable offense, or will this spread? Heck, I've got pyromania, vampirism, voluntary slavery, and world domination in my interests. *grin* That's bound to offend or upset somebody right there, isn't it?

LJ turning into a totalitarian regime is hardly the end of the world, of course. But I would find it highly annoying if it did.
Serenamagyarok_saman on August 4th, 2007 11:39 am (UTC)
That's alright...
I applied for a spot on the Abuse Team after the first round of bannings, and I just got my answer the other day. They "can't use me right now".

Gee, I wonder if it had to do with my current interests of things like BDSM, slavery, etc...LOL

L
Silver Adept: Dragon Bombsilveradept on August 4th, 2007 02:52 pm (UTC)
A shifting standard is nobody's friend, because it tends to shift only in one direction, if history is to be believed. Turning what is probably an outlet of creative and free expression into something more like most people's normal lives, where they hide and bottle things up because they know there's going to be Disapproving Stares from the people around them, is less than appealing.

I do wonder what will be the next exercise - if after all the "predators" have been driven away or to the underground, and the fannish writing communities and journals are expunged or leave, then what, indeed? It would certainly not mean they'll go away, having accomplished so much. I can see them turning toward people they consider "sexual deviants" regarding consenting acts between adults. Or maybe they'll take up a crusade to get any mention of safe sex, abortions, birth control, and other issues banned. And if the higher-ups of LiveJournal continue to cave, fairly soon there won't be anyone there, having been driven off or left of their own accord.

Which might all be part of a master SixApart plan, for all I know. But if it is, they should have just disbanded LiveJournal, given us our walking papers, and let us back up and move our stuff over.