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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.

Just to get it out of the way: Thanks for inquiring. These both seem like worthwhile approaches.

I was unaware that comments made by suspended journals were deleted. I agree with the many people who request that, unless the suspension was for trolling/spamming, comments not be deleted.

Noting the concern of some other commenter that if only a single post is suspended it may not be noticed by the poster (particularly if they no longer have access to the original account they set it up with), my suggestion would be to use both of these propsed ideas in part of a progressive discipline approach. Start by suspending a single post and sending an email giving them 24 hours to deal with the content, and if there is no response, move to making the journal read-only. If they didn't get the email or didn't notice the one-post suspension, they'll notice when they try to make a new post and can't.

I'm in favour of #1... it is actually a feature that I asked for in the context of community maintainership awhile ago. I think that giving maintainers the ability to temporarily "suspend" or make "private" an inflammatory post is the only way to get rid of the offending post as an interim measure while awaiting LJ Abuse action.

But anyway, I digress, becaause this is not actually what you are proposing. Still tho, I like option 1 for some circumstances (single event offenders).

I like option #2, again for different reasons... Someone might deserve to be banned for some egregious error, but their journal will still be available for posterity.

The grey area comes when trying to decide when to use Option 1 vs. 2... vs. complete suspension.

So I vote for both depending on circumstance.

And if a seventeen year old mother posts her own breastfeeding pic...?

I am assuming that is an example of what is meant by "non-sexualized" photos.

If my dollar matters as a paid user, and you're taking votes, I'm ok with your account suspension options presented. They seem fair and versatile so that only content (and individual entries) that are in voilation are affected, vs. the whole thing, except where noted in your descriptions above.

I'd vote for #2! That way the entries and comments that are in the communities are still available for others to see - the way I see it, there's no reason to punish a whole community for something that one person did/might have done to grant the suspension.

I think this sounds like a good way to handle borderline unacceptable content.

The option to suspend or lock down single entries sounds brilliant, especially since its a shame to lose several years worth of work for one single transgression.

Using a 'read only' state seems like a less appealing option but would probably benefit the readers who otherwise lose the option to continue reading even though they haven't done anything wrong.

Thank you for sharing the ideas your'e debating with us. I very much like #1 and I think it would have made a lot of difference if that had been the procedure during some previous difficulties.

#2 is more complicated, you'd have to have a very clear set of guidelines as to when a journal would disappear from view and when it would just go read only but it's an interesting solution too.

I'm pleasantly pleased to find sensible suggestions and actual information sharing here. I hope this kind of dialogue continues!

As far as the options go, I say #1 is the way to go. I would think that option 2 might be a little too open for abuse if the suspended person is a spammer/troll. Leaving the rest of a journal open to editing by them would allow them a chance to remove other possibly offensive entries/proof that they are spamming while one entry is being investigated.

I think locking down a single entry is far better than the entire journal, especially given the time-frame of twenty-four hours, a person could easily be unable to gain access in that time (power cuts, etc.)

You have the option then, if the person goes on violating the rule time after time of suspending the entire journal.

But if it's a one off and one of those 'borderline cases' and the person would comply but for some reason is unable to do so within twenty-four hours, the person concerned doesn't have his/her whole journal locked down.

I like the first one but I agree with those who have said that 24 hours may not be enough time. Things happen - emergencies come up, work gets busy - some people may have a perfectly valid reason for not responding within 24 hours. Maybe a week would be better.

I like the second one, too, as long as the user isn't able to actively use their account until the suspended entry is dealt with (by actively use I mean create new posts or comments).

And hey, thanks for asking for our opinions!

With the 24 hour thing, it seems there (from what I can tell) still remains an option to deal with the suspension at a later date.

I vote for Single Entry Suspension

Well, not in a literal sense, because this isn't a poll.

I've long wished LJ could do that. It seems so much more reasonable- when there's only one post which appears in possible violation, why hide all posts?

#1 sounds like a good idea to me.

Also, you're doing so much better at the openness-stuff :)

I like the policy change with borderline content. The changes reflect a fair and reasonable process.

I think the options underconsideration need further refinement to let us know how these policies may apply differently across user journals and communities.

For communities, option one is the best policy, allowing the community to continue to function normally and dealing with the single offending post/user. I'd go further to say that the offending community post be blocked and the journal of the user who posted it moved through the suspension procedure, even if the journal itself has no offending content. I'd hate to see one ticked off community member take it out on the community.

For a user journal, I'd prefer the "read only" state. I think that if you simply blocked the post in question you'd have a lot of skoff going on - as in who cares if it's just one post. The "read only" option makes them do something about it.

Also, it prevents additional drama in the journal until the issue is resolved.

However, in line with out new policy of openness, we wanted to get your opinions on this matter.

And that is how you work towards regaining the title of awesome. *applauds the good effort being made*

Both options work for me; the single-entry lockdown seems to make the most sense in minor situations, and the revised version of #2 (read-only status until the content is removed) sounds fair as well. Both are leaps and bounds ahead of the previous "delete without warning" policy.

I do have a question, though -- I remember the situation last summer where someone was suspended because she removed the offending image from her journal's Scrapbook, but for some reason it stayed on the server (invisible and untouchable to her) and she was suspended anyway. I'm assuming measures have been taken to avoid that in the future?

Those seem like good changes, now can we retroactively save some journals that shouldn't have been suspended in the first place?

Also, couldn't either one or two be used depending on situation? One for an entry based suspension, two if the user is being suspended for reasons other than that?

Edited at 2008-07-04 02:26 pm (UTC)