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Policy/procedure change and account suspension discussion
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theljstaff wrote in lj_policy
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.

I like the idea of suspending only single entries. Seems like a good compromise.

The new policy on teenager pictures sounds very reasonable.

I think the idea of 1 is pretty good, although I do wonder whether it will lead to people simply ignoring e-mails from the Abuse Prevention team. Simply leaving the offending entry locked/suspended will actually be easier than going to the entry and editing or deleting it.

I don't have any objections to 2, either, provided that the journal owner can always have to option to delete the journal in the future if they decide to do so. I agree with other people who've said that it's annoying to lose the comments from suspended users, but at the same time I can see why it's unfair to leave comments visible when the suspended user has lost the power to delete them.

I love the idea of suspending only the entries that are in violation instead of the entire journal. Likewise, I love the idea that past entries of suspended journals can still be seen, even if the user can no longer post to them.

I am on the fence regarding the issue of non-sexual photographs of teenagers/minors. If the entry is under a friends/member only lock, would it still be subjected to the same rules? If the photographs are non-sexual in nature and instead are used as informational, why would they be subject to removal?

An entry under a friends-lock, or members-only lock would still be required to be removed if it were reported to us. Under certain circumstances, if the image were purely education (as stated above, from a good-faith opinion standpoint), it would be exempt from this policy.

[ suspension changes ]

both of these, i think, are terrific ideas; frankly, i'm pleasantly surprised to see the lj staff seriously considering such a fair and diplomatic course of action, considering the mess that has been this past year.

...and i'm sure i'm echoing just about every other comment.

option #1 sounds very reasonable, because my guess is that most times these sorts of violations occur by mistake, with the poster otherwise being a relatively upstanding member of the LiveJournal community, most of whose posts pose no violation. punishing them for a single slip-up by deleting their whole journal seems rather harsh -- especially when the mistake could be the result of lj policy terms being unclear in one way or another. plus, other people may be relying on that journal's content: have certain posts memoried or linked elsewhere... etc.

option #2 is also good, for that second reason: allowing others to have access to content and not punishing everyone for one person's mistake. if this is an either/or deal, then i definitely prefer the first option... but maybe the second could be used for repeat violators, or if the person fails to remove the offending content -- basically, if you feel that harsher measures need to be taken.

also? it would be great if option #2 was made available (and encouraged) to people who delete their own journal by choice. since, as i mentioned, the whole community suffers when older content is suddenly no longer accessible.

I like where things seem to be going.

What about baby photos? People often take photos of their kids in the bathtub and most people I know aren't offended by infant nudity.

Never mind I just caught the key word "post-pubescent".

#1 sounds like an excellent idea. It seems much fairer to only suspend violating material rather than, say, removing several years' worth of journal entries because of a single violation. I also think this would help boost users' confidence in LJ - I know a lot of people took to posting at other sites because they felt LJ wasn't 'safe' when an entire journal of mostly innocuous material could be lost if one entry was considered a violation. This wouldn't be the case if only violating entries were suspended, so it's much better.

#2 might be a good idea in some cases, although there would need to be clear guidance on which suspended journals would be eligible to remain viewable and which would not, as I can see this becoming a potential source of conflict.

The first option is awesome. The second option, not so much... Someone once created a parody account of mine for the sole purpose of sexually harassing me. I wouldn't want that journal in read only mode. I would want it to stay completely and utterly suspended forever because the entire purpose of the journal was to harass me. It had no other legitimate purpose. If however the person wants to delete the account, they should be allowed to do so in my opinion. Other than that, I don't reallylike the second option.

I like the idea of suspending individual entries. I feel that this would give the user and LJ time to discuss the entry in question, if need be.

on a separate note:

it would be great if you could be as clear as possible on what qualifies as sexualization. would a fairly innocent photo with sexually suggestive text superimposed upon it count as sexualized (for example: a teenage actress with her mouth open and a joke about oral sex)? what about photographs featuring revealing clothing? do certain poses make a non-explicit photo qualify as sexualized -- if so, which ones? or, what about non-explicit but borderline physical activity, like a hot and heavy make-out session?

and, i know other people have asked about this... but what if you're posting images of yourself and you happen to be a minor?

wouldn't want anyone to have their journal suspended because they posted something they didn't know would be a violation. and, conversely: if something definitely isn't a violation, it'd be great to be able to have that peace of mind when posting.

Edited at 2008-07-03 11:58 pm (UTC)

I had this concern, too, but was having trouble thinking of clear examples where "sexualized" might be in question. Thanks for adding some!

Thank you guys so much for posting this in advance of a change and asking for (and genuinely seeming to want) our opinions. It's the change that we all waited more than a year for and it's extremely appreciated.

As for my own thoughts, I'd think that, as has been mentioned above, a combination of the single entry suspension and the read only option would be your best bet. Use single entry suspension only when the suspension has been caused by an actual entry in the person's own journal, and use the read only option when the suspension has been caused by the user's actions outside of a journal entry, such as in comments elsewhere, etc. I would also suggest that in either case, the user's ability to post entries or comments be prohibited until the matter causing the suspension has been cleared up.

I am also going to chime in and add my voice to those begging that you reconsider removing every comment that a suspended user ever made. It has always made me think of Orwell and 1984 and things of that nature. It also unfairly penalizes users who had nothing to do with the suspension.


I like option 1 a lot. Option 2 seems like it wouldn't be very useful, and could cause problems and misperceptions also.

I like the read-only idea (#2) provided that the entries that were in violation are still hidden.

I basically agree with this entire post. Great work, guys.

I realize that each case of suspension is potentially unique. However, I would be interested in some example scenarios that would still result in an entire-journal suspension, and some scenarios that you think single-entry suspension would be preferable, and some scenarios that a read-only suspension would be preferable.

Me too. Though these proposed changes seem good it's hard to really tell without seeing some examples on how they're intended to work.