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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.


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The only thing that concerns me here is what counts as "sexualized" or "non-sexualized." These words can be pretty open to interpretation, so I think that it would be important to be specific about what counts under each category. For example, it seems straightforward that baby pictures in the tub would fall under the term "non-sexualized," right? But would things of that nature still be tagged for removal?

The actions that you outline when photographs are reported seem quite reasonable to me, but please, when you implement this policy, add some examples that clarify the words and terminology that you use for objectionable content.

Other than that, I like both of the options that you lay out - both locking a single entry and making a suspended journal read-only would allow the preservation of the existing acceptable content, which seems much more fair to the journal owner and readers. It seems as if option 1 (locking a single entry) might be easier and clearer to implement in a variety of situations, though, so I would probably lean towards that one.

Finally: thanks for asking for opinions, LJ! I appreciate the openness in this and the last few policy changes.

Oops, on re-reading, I just realized that we're only talking about post-pubescent minors here, so the "baby pictures" example doesn't make any sense. But I actually think that the point is still important - remember the massive debate over the Vanity Fair portraits of Miley Cyrus?

Determining what does and does not count as "sexualized" still needs some clarity.

Although those photos showed large amounts of skin but did not go near breasts or genitalia, so those photos wouldn't be called into debate under this specific policy, if I'm reading it right.

I'm not sure, which is why I brought it up. I think that it's possible for a picture to be seen as sexual in nature even without being explicit (there's more examples here), and I don't think that the policy is clear on those cases. I agree with you that they're clearly concerned about explicit photos, but then there's also "photographs where sexualization of a minor is apparent," which seems like a big grey area.

I mentioned the Miley portrait because enough people screamed about it being sexual (and therefore inappropriate) that she made a public apology, despite the fact that it was not even close to explicit. It seems like one of those cases where "sexualization of a minor" is totally subjective. Does that make sense?

FWIW, I think they've missed a major point by limiting this rule to post-pubescents, rather than including the whole spectrum. Why? Because as you mentioned, the kid in the bath shots. The first picture anyone off the Internet ever saw of me or my daughter was of me holding her in the bath at age, oooh, probably about six months old. There was absolutely nothing at all explicit about it, unless you count the fact that we were both explicitly naked (which isn't something I consider to be a big deal - I mean, we're all born naked, right?). Yet to comply with LJs policy, I am not allowed to post my most absolutely favourite photograph of me and my daughter, because we're both naked, and you can see her six month old flabby boobs (all kids have flabby boobs at six months old ime) just over the rim of the bath.

I understand the "think of the children" whines behind why they've got these rules, but personally, I reckon ALL potentially dodgy things should be taken on a case by case basis, and not just glossed over with the great big tar brush of shame.

I also agree with your point about how the hell does sexualization get determined.

ETA: See my now confusion.

Edited at 2008-07-04 10:36 pm (UTC)

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