?

Log in

No account? Create an account
 
 
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
 
 
 
Amokk: bitchamokk on August 4th, 2007 03:48 pm (UTC)
Yes, they've said they're just clarifying how they interpret the TOS, which is weaselspeak, really.

As far as Common Carrier, I just know the basics of it, and there's probably more info at wikipedia about it anyway. Basically, Common Carrier means they're just the middleman; court rulings have stated that ISPs and hosting services are simply carriers, they're not responsible for content if that content is illegal (such as conspiracy to murder, etc). COPA and the DMCA updated it somewhat, basically as long as a duly authorized and properly formated Takedown notice is given, and they respond in a "reasonable" amount of time to remove the offending material, the CC status is withheld. The person who posted can then reply with a form that states how they were using the information under the Fair Use guidelines, but it can still be a hassle on both sides.

However, once a carrier starts policing content on their own without legal intervention, they risk losing CC status and would suddenly become liable for all content; right now if someone posts libel, LJ is not responsible. If they lose CC status (via a court ruling), then LJ is liable for that libel as much as the original author.

This is why LJ really shouldn't get involved, regardless of who's pressuring them, and why previous results were "it's not criminal to talk about crimes, we cant' do anything" and which a lot of people want them to go back to.


Really, all this boils down to a few vigilante groups think certain individuals in this country should have less rights than others because "they're icky" and are willing to bludgeon and libel/slander anyone they can to make everyone else cowtow to their beliefs.
Silver Adept: Domokun Anchorsilveradept on August 4th, 2007 11:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I still wonder why the response was so decisive, myself. Normally, I would think that such a cease notice and explanation accompanying would be sufficient. Why go straight to the banstick?
Amokk: bitchamokk on August 5th, 2007 02:49 am (UTC)
They replied to stormcloude basically saying that a group of people at LJ/6A review reported material now to decide if the artistic merit outweighs the sexual content and that in these new cases it's immediate suspension without notification.

So that's why. Yet more shadow rules that only those at LJ get to know about to enforce them, but we don't get to know about them to follow them.