New policy: Unwanted sexual images of yourself
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theljstaff
Hi all, it's been awhile since we've posted here but we wanted to take a minute to let you know we're updating our Abuse Policies. Specifically, we're creating a policy that allows you to have any nude or sexualized image or video of yourself removed, regardless of why it was posted in the first place. We believe it is important for everyone to have control over this kind of content as it can have a drastic impact on a person's life.

The detailed policy can be seen at http://www.livejournal.com/abuse/policy.bml#sexualimages.

Please let us know if you have any questions, concerns, or comments on this policy!

Summary of Terms of Service update
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theljstaff
We felt it was important with the changes to the Terms of Service to have a post here which identifies some of the key changes. We also want to give you all the opportunity to ask any questions you have regarding the changes, or any questions you have about the Terms of Service & Privacy Policy in general.

While a lot of text has changed, these changes do not represent drastic changes in how the Terms of Service are enforced, which is described in our Abuse Policies. The changes to the Terms of Service were primarily done to clarify a number of situations which we did not feel were properly reflected in the previous version of the Terms of Service.

We have exactly one policy change to announce: we no longer allow children under the age of 13 to use the service. The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires service providers to take a number of special actions regarding accounts belonging to children under the age of 13, one of which is obtaining parental permission. We have noticed that almost no parents have opted to grant permission to their children to use the service since we began this program several years ago, and LiveJournal is just not a platform which was ever intended to be used by children.

Now that we've covered the policy change, here is a brief summary of the changes to the Terms of Service which we feel are most significant:

* We have established that we act as a safe harbor on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in several places, and have further clarified that we do not claim any rights to, nor liability for, any content posted by users of the service in several places (Sections X, XIII.)

Section X (Termination):

* There is now a brief section explaining that we do not allow malicious Search Engine Optimization (SEO) activity.

* There is now a section regarding offensive content, which notes that we may suspend accounts, remove content, or flag adult content as we see fit to do so. It should be emphasized that this does not represent a change in policies, but briefly identifies the most common activities that result in these actions being taken. What actions are typically taken in response to these activities still follows the guidelines of our Abuse Policies.

* There is now a section regarding purging inactive accounts. We have made periodic announcements in news about these activities over the past few months, and felt that it was important to note within the Terms of Service that inactive accounts may be purged as part of our routine site maintenance.

* There is now a section regarding U.S. court orders and police investigations.


Section XIII (Journal Content):

* We more clearly urge users to flag their own content as adult where applicable, and state that LiveJournal may apply adult content settings to entries or journals/communities if we feel it has not been set appropriately.

These are the most significant changes to the Terms of Service. This post should not be interpreted as a comprehensive list of all changes made, nor should it be used in place of reading the actual Terms of Service.

That said, we welcome any comments, concerns, or questions you may have!

(no subject)
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theljstaff
We have been contacted by the New York Attorney General's office with a list of registered sex offenders as part of their e-STOP initiative. Based on this data, we've suspended 186 accounts; we feel that it is important to remove these individuals from LiveJournal to help ensure the safety of our users.

This was only applied to registered sex offenders in the state of New York because they are currently the only state which has contacted us with this information and request. If other states or countries are able to provide us with similar data which can be used to remove potentially dangerous people from the site, we will take similar action.

Single entry suspend and read-only
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theljstaff
Based on the feedback we received back in July, we have implemented both the ability to suspend a single journal entry, and the ability to place a journal into a read-only state. We've updated our policies to reflect these changes to our Abuse process.

Our goal for these new tools is to restrict access to content which violates our policies and prevent the posting of new violating content, while still allowing non-violating content to be readable. When possible, we will suspend access to individual entries rather than entire journal. Use of the read-only feature will generally be used as an alternative to both temporary and permanent suspensions. Some situations will still require the whole journal to be suspended, but we believe these new tools will drastically reduce the number of whole journal suspensions that are performed. This will allow for as much content as possible to remain intact while still removing violations from the site.

Our policies may still require some fine tuning as we begin using these tools, and we appreciate any feedback you can give us on how these tools should be used.

Policy/procedure change and account suspension discussion
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theljstaff
We are planning one additional clarification to the Policies and Procedures. It has been the long-standing practice of LiveJournal to treat photographs of post-pubescent minors (under age 18) in which genitalia or breasts are clearly shown, or photographs where sexualization of a minor is apparent, as unacceptable content, with exception of photographs that in our good faith opinion serve legitimate news or educational purposes. In cases like these, the journal has been permanently suspended, and the content forwarded to the NCMEC due to concerns about child pornography laws.

Now, in the case of non-sexualized photographs of teenagers where breasts or genitalia are shown, we will no longer permanently suspend the account. Because of the borderline nature of that content, we have changed our practices at this time. When the content reported to us is photographic nudity of minors which is non-sexual in nature, we will take the following actions:

1. Upon being reported to us, we will email the users who have posted such content, and require that the photograph be removed within 24 hours.

2. If the photograph is not removed, we will temporarily suspend the account, and provide instructions for unsuspending the account and removing the offending photograph.

3. Noncompliance after unsuspending the account in order to remove the material or repeat violations will result in permanent suspension.

Therefore we will not be changing what is unacceptable content on LiveJournal, but we will be changing our take-down procedure for this type of content, and we will be making an addition to our policy document to make this clear.


We would also like to present for your consideration and discussion the options for technical changes in the suspension process that we are currently considering.

1. One of the options that is under discussion for implementation in the future is to suspend or lock down single entries; currently, only entire journals can be suspended. This would prevent users from having their entire journal suspended for a single violating entry, allowing them to continue using their accounts. This would also allow people who read that journal to continue viewing their other entries which do not contain any violations. The entry could later be unsuspended/unlocked when they have removed the violating content.

2. Currently, when an account is suspended, all entries in the journal are hidden from view; users viewing the journal can only see an announcement that the account has been suspended.
We are considering a possible change that, under some circumstances, would preserve the user's journal in a "read only" state. The journal would be available for reading, but new content could not be posted to it. The user would also be able to delete his or her journal altogether after it has been locked if they do not wish for it to be viewable.

Please, keep in mind that neither of these options are set in stone and are still in the process of discussion. However, in line with out new policy of openness, we wanted to get your opinions on this matter.

Slight change to a policy
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theljstaff
We've done extensive reviews of our policies in this community now, and for the future of this community, we intend to post updates as our policies grow and change. Many of these are likely to be very small changes to one or two policies where we have seen room for improvement.

We have not formally changed our policy at http://www.livejournal.com/abuse/policy.bml#childporn yet, but intend to shortly. We feel that it is necessary to implement a very slightly more lenient stance in regards to content which has been posted and which is questionable as to whether it technically qualifies as child pornography under United States law, or was done without the person posting that content knowing the image was of a minor. In such borderline cases, we do not feel permanent suspension from the site is warranted; instead, we plan to temporarily suspend users until they are available to remove the content. Whether or not the user was aware the image portrayed a minor, or should reasonably have known, will be a subjective judgement made internally. Further, in such cases, we will report such cases to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to ensure we remain in compliance with US law. Users who repeatedly post borderline content will still be subject to permanent suspension.

Conclusions
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theljstaff
Back in March, we gave a starting point for developing a set of reasonable policy guidelines, and committed ourselves to post a set of policies based on your feedback by the end of May. We've reviewed your comments, consulted with the current members of the Advisory Board, and have made some changes based on this feedback.

You can view the entire policy document at http://www.livejournal.com/abuse/policy.bml; for those interested, you can review the policies which were proposed in March here.

We also want to highlight the key changes we have made to our policies:

* Our Adult Content policy has been changed to emphasize that content which is flagged as containing explicit adult content does not mean it is in violation of our Terms of Service, and will not result in other actions being taken against users who post it. The process for reporting adult content has also changed so that the system only handles reports of adult content; reports of violations of our policies should be reported as outlined here.

We have also stated within the policy that non-graphic, non-sexualized nudity is not considered explicit adult content. This includes things such as an image of a mother breastfeeding their child, or a non-sexualized work of art such as the Statue of David. We have also extended this to our policy on default userpics; non-graphic, non-sexualized nudity is no longer considered a violation of our default userpic policy.

* We have removed the Bandwidth Theft policy; we feel that it is not LiveJournal's role to intervene in such situations, and that the issue should be resolved through controls on the site which the content resides.

* With Hate Speech, we've decided to expand this slightly so that it also applies to content which advocates the violence/harm of others. We feel that such expression goes beyond being merely offensive, and in practice leads to the harm of others, which we do not condone in any way. We have also included a statement that this policy does not apply to statements which are satire or hyperbole; this has also been clarified in our Self Harm and Threatening Content policies.

* Our policy on Non-Photographic Images of Minors is being removed. What this means is that we will no longer be requiring the removal of this content, or suspending people who have posted it. We feel that with the introduction of the adult content flagging system, we do not need to take any further action on this type of material.

* Discussion of self harm, particularly pro-eating disorder communities, have presented us with many difficult decisions. Many people feel passionately about how we should act in regards to such communities, and while we have made no changes to this policy, this is only because we feel the issue requires further research. We intend to meet with several special interest groups relevant to the subject who can help us determine which types of content are likely to lead to harm for people suffering from a disorder so that we can make informed decisions when we approach this policy.

While there are other minor changes present within the document, these are the ones we felt were very significant and worth bringing to your attention.

These will be the acting policies for LiveJournal, and are effective immediately. This is not, however, a process which is completed; we feel that policy is an important issue which requires continuous review, and should adapt over time as the needs of LiveJournal as both a community and a business change.

We welcome your thoughts on these policies, are looking forward to hearing the opinions of the newly elected members of the Advisory Board; we're sure that policy will remain a key issue for discussion when they convene.

Beginning the conversation
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theljstaff
As we're sure you remember, one of the goals LiveJournal, Inc. set last year was to review and post new policy guidelines in our 100 day plan.

We know you've all been waiting a long time for this to happen, and today, we're taking an important step in accomplishing this goal. We've reviewed, clarified, and posted a draft set of policies, and we'd like you to take a look at them here!

We also want to emphasize that this is a proposed set of policies. We've created these proposed policies as a starting point for constructive debate, as we feel that it is crucial to get input from you and LiveJournal's new Advisory Board.

For those of you wanting to compare this to the previous policy document, it's still up here. We have updated policies in a number of areas which have generated interest from users, particularly on non-photographic images of minors, harassment, inappropriate content, and hate speech.

With that said, we'd like to invite you to read and review these policies, and comment with your thoughts. In particular, we want to hear which policies you think should change (or are missing entirely), how you would like to see them changed, and your reasoning as to why you believe it would be a better solution for LiveJournal.

We will complete this consultation process by the end of May.

(no subject)
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theljstaff
Concerns regarding Adult Content program

We wanted to address some concerns about the program put in place last month regarding adult content. This system came about due to a variety of legal, community, and industry standards. There are no punitive measures for deciding not to participate, and is designed so that logged-in users over the age of 18 should not see any change in their experience on LiveJournal. With that in mind, we would like to communicate information we have regarding some concerns.


  • A process for notifying authors that an individual entry has been administratively set to "Explicit" is in progress. As soon as this feature is released we will post again to let you know about it.


  • For users who registered before a date of birth was required, we wanted to remind you that you may enter your date of birth on the Edit Profile page. Under the heading "Birthday" it is possible to hide that information, make it publicly visible, or show it only to friends. You may also decide what format to use when showing the information (Month, Day, and Year; only Month and Day; or only Year).


  • We'd like to reiterate that there's no effect at all from a single user flagging another user's content. After multiple flags, the content will be reviewed. There is a system in place to make it so that flags used by someone for improper reasons (harassing another user user, working out a personal grudge, or systematically flagging content which does not fit a category) will no longer count towards the threshold for review in any category. This system has been working well thus far - we will make any adjustments needed to ensure this continues to work as intended and is not used as a tool for harassment. Part of this assessment may include changes to the internal processing or external appearance of the flagging system.


Blocked Search Terms

Some users have noted that there are certain search terms which are currently blocked from use. We can clarify the following things:


  • The list was created in June of this year and an update was added in late October


  • The blocked search terms are not related to the search filter which was put in place with the Adult Content program


  • The blocked search terms are not related to the recent purchase of LiveJournal and were made earlier this year, as stated above


  • We will continue to review the blocked terms and update or remove them as necessary; however, we will not be posting updates when we do so.


  • We are reviewing the system for a different solution to the problem, but will likely not announce or comment on any changes


We're sorry we can't share more information, but we wanted to address the issue to let you know we are aware of your concerns. Whenever possible, we will communicate information to you, even if it's just to say that we can't comment.

Update on Adult Flagging and other policy items
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theljstaff
Thank you all for your feedback regarding the adult content flagging system. There are several concerns we have seen raised repeatedly, and we want you all to know that we are taking these concerns seriously.

There was a problem with the display of content on the RSS feeds for content marked as "Explicit Adult Content" or "Adult Concepts." This was a bug, and has since been fixed. Thank you to those of you who brought this to our attention.

Based upon your feedback, the search settings for all users over the age of 18 will be set to not filter any content. This change will happen on the next code release. Please note that this is for existing journals only – new accounts will be set to Moderate Filtering, but will be able to manually change that setting.

There are some things we are working on that we do not have solutions for at this time. We realize that the lack of notification when an entry has been administratively set to "Explicit Adult Content" is a problem, and we are working on implementing a way to notify you in this situation. We also feel it is important that content which has been set as containing "Explicit Adult Content", or "Adult Concepts" clearly indicate that this is the case.

For those who see the adult content lj-cut, we realize they may not see the lj-cut intended by the author of the post. This is something for which we do not have an immediate solution. We will continue to look at this problem, and are open to any suggestions you might have.

Additionally, we are determining what the best option available is for users who initially entered an incorrect date of birth. As a temporary solution, anyone who is experiencing this problem can contact coppa@livejournal.com with their username and a copy of any government issued identification which includes a date of birth.

Some of you have pointed out that our Abuse report form does not properly indicate that our Hate Speech policies apply to members of any sex, gender, or sexual orientation. We assure you this is simply an oversight in the text on this page; the Abuse Prevention Team's Hate Speech policy has, and will continue to apply to these groups.

Many of the things mentioned in this entry are still being worked on, and will not be live on the site immediately. However, we feel it is important to give you an update on our plans to resolve these outstanding issues, and welcome any additional feedback you may have on how to further improve the adult content flagging system.

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