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theljstaff wrote in lj_policy
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.

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1) Could you please clarify what problem blocking search terms solves? Why these search terms are blocked? I recognize that there are issues involved with content that may violate LJ's TOS, but (debates about chilling effects on discussion aside) is preventing people from searching for certain interest really the best way to do this? It seems impossible to block all, or even most terms that might lead to such material (e.g. you've blocked certain terms associated with Nazism in English, but not the equivalent terms in German, and searches on these do definitely lead to the type of material you are probably trying to prevent people from searching for). Why prevent people from searching for terms when they can still be listed as interests and such content can still exist on LJ? Does preventing searches on these terms somehow offer LJ additional legal protection? I simply want to understand the logic behind this.
2) I would very much like to see an announcement made if drastic changes are made to this list of terms, or if a different solution is implemented.
3) If searching must be restricted in this way, can more careful attention be paid to not blocking unrelated terms? e.g. blocking a particular term resulted in users being unable to search for such unobjectionable interests as "spicy food" and "hospice." These terms are now searchable, but so is the term I assume was being intentionally blocked. There's a similar problem with the word "fagioli"-- in the event that some were interested in discussing Italian cooking, this might be a problem...

Unfortunately, we can't clarify the problem which caused the blocked search-terms. Over time we hope to eliminate terms and substring matches, but it won't be something we *can* comment on.

Why? Again, are you legally prevented from doing so? What possible reason exists? Is a certain government or owner threatening to destroy Livejournal if the problem is revealed? Has the FBI placed a gag order on Livejournal? I find this all very hard to believe and more importantly, I doubt there's any sort of LJ issue which could ever create a real truly binding gag order.

Sorry, that's not an acceptable answer. It makes no sense to use a substring search that mysteriously blocks perfectly acceptable interests, and it makes even less sense not to talk about it unless the only reason is to cover up somebody's idiotic mistake.

Why are you deliberately fostering even more paranoia among your users?

Because they're being told to not answer these specific questions.

Some lawyer, somewhere out there, told them they can't.

IS this something to do with the sale of LJ to SUP? They'll take it but only with restrictions? I know you won't answer but I wanted to air my question anyway.

Since I'm not staff, I can give you my opinions - since the interest search blocking started some time before this sale, I doubt it's anything to do with that.

Actually, from what I read here, the discussions and negotiations for the sale of LJ to SUP have been going on for a long time, longer than many of us thought, so it's VERY possible for it to be the case.

I bet this has something to do with the sale, in the contract. since 6apart never told us about the filter and the user base finding out and demanding answer possibly they can't say anything due to a stipulation in their contract of sale from 6apart.

It is degrading and treating all users as children rather than paying members of a website.

I doubt if a third party is suing that they would ask a judge for a gag order on this implementation of a filter. It would likely be 6apart. Their interests in their reputation wich could be tainted in their other products, due to the fact their other projects are in the same circles.

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