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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.

The first option seems like a good idea as part of a warning system. First warning: suspend entry. Second warning: suspend journal. Third warning: permanently suspend journal. That seems reasonable.

Both of these options seem like reasonable ones -- they allow the user to retain the journal, don't disrupt communities where the user might have posted and if the issue resolved, then things can continue on. It doesn't provide as much fuel for drama as the current option, and that's a good thing

Wow, that actually MAKES SENSE. How refreshing!

Thank you very much for the open discussion of upcoming changes. I'm in agreement with most of the other commenters that option 1 is probably more workable, along with an aforementioned suggestion that no new entries or comments can be made until the matter is resolved. I also like the idea of a less harsh system for people who are not using their journals to aggressively break the law or LJ's TOS. The single-offense instant permanent ban is really pretty frightening for people who don't mean any harm and use their journals for recording and storing valuable memories.

Both these ideas seem very fair and workable to me. And thank you very much for communicating so clearly and professionally with us. Your latest policy announcements and the way you're working with the user community helps LJ to feel like home again. I'd been considering upgrading my fandom account to paid for some time, and seeing this announcement helped me decide it would be worth it :)

Thanks for asking for our opinion I hope though you will actually listen.

Your use of these sentences however makes the entire picture as clear as mud:

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
Read one way your are talking about teenagers only. Read another the cute baby pictures come under the ban hammer too.

Please clarify.

As for the suspensions.
More time than 24 hours could be needed not everyone is glued to their computer screens on a daily basis, however you could make the photo unviewable thus avoiding problems of it being seen by others.

Yes if only one entry is "objectionable" or at least alleged to be so, then that entry should be suspended if technically feasible.

If the more than one entry has been called in to question then surely the entire journal should also be put on hold.

I suggest the "read only" status should be enforced if the offender still has not complied within a reasonable time limit (say 72 hours) and it should stay that way until they do comply.

Allowing a suspended journal to be "read only" though would surely depend on the content of the entries?

To clarify - if you post cute baby pictures and the kid just happens to be naked, that's fine. This particular policy is specifically teenagers (post-pubescent), containing full photographic nudity of genitals or breasts.

Won't comment on policy changes regarding minor images - there are better people to discuss that. I would like to say that, in regards to the possible changes to suspension, both option one and two have their place. Option one seems like a better step to take for minor or first offenses whereas option two, in conjunction with one, seems like a good way of handling repeat minor offenders.

Hello...I will keep this brief. If I get a reply from an actual LJ policy maker I will expound clearly point by point.

To boil down my concerns:Child pornography is illegal and considered heinous by most of society. No argument there. And to prevent any appearance of impropriety is laudable. HOWEVER, to violate First amendment rights is also illegal. I assume that LJ as a private entity has the right to regulate content. However, the possibility of LJ's actions violating a constitutional right or at the least drawing a class action lawsuit from the ACLU, an entity vital to a free country, is a possibility. If an LJ policy maker reads this and wants a breakdown of my concerns please contact me directly.


I'm not an LJ policy maker, but I can answer your question as I've taken classes on Mass Media (and even without that already know how this works):

LJ is a private company.

LJ has a right to make its own policies.

You have a right to post what you want, but if it doesn't fit LJ's policies, they have a right to remove the content, the user, or whatever else they like.

It does not break the US Constitution, because they are a private entity, a company, and not a federal bureau or otherwise government property. They can't do anything crazy like own slaves, naturally, but put rules on the content they are willing to publish? Indeed they can. You don't normally see Scholastic publishing pornographic books; they're strictly a school-aged children publisher and have a right to reject material or fire authors who break policy or contract. LiveJournal as a company has that same right. So the "Freedom of Speech" clause is useless here.

If you want "Freedom of Speech" you publish your own material on your own site and server, or go rant on public property. Companies themselves could put completely idiotic policies up and not break the Constitution. LiveJournal could say all posts have to support the American Republic tomorrow or they'll be deleted. Well... Probably not THAT far, California consumer protection laws would consider that unreasonable. But they can put a lot of clauses in their policy and it's not law-suit able.

When they were suspending without having anything on their policy or giving time for clarification, making suspensions almost randomly, and things of the sort... THAT is when they were at risk for a law-suit. But they've back-tracked on that so much I doubt that's a very foreseeable future.

You say you understand LJ has the right to regulate content being a private entity, and then move on to the violation of Constitutional Rights. This confuses me; you're contradicting your own statement. They have the right to regulate material because they are a private entity, so long as they remain at an extent considered reasonable (illegal material is reasonable, in fact, a person loses some of their rights or even most of them by breaking the law). That's... really an end to the discussion right there. You can't move from there to "class action lawsuit for violation of constitutional rights" because you've just admitted as a private entity they can regulate material as they wish. You're using their service. So... Those ideas together really clash.

And if it turns out Abuse has misunderstood that it is "child" porn and it turns out the "person" (as the ban-spree was often about fictional characters) in the piece is 18-25 (I couldn't tell a tall 15 year old from a 22 year old myself).

Because some of LJ's past suspensions were in regards to things where the user never broke any of their policies (unspoken or otherwise) let alone the law. You mention opportunity for renewal, but not how one would clarify the material as being of an adult.