LiveJournal: When the LJ abuse prevention team become the abusers, who will protect the LJ users?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Nipplegate summary

Because this is being discussed on so many journals and blogs I thought it would be useful to provide a summary of events to people who are new to the story.

LJ user hardvice set his default icon to a piece of artwork which showed Bea Arthur topless. The icon was reported to LJ Abuse who said he couldn't use it as his default icon. They also told him his replacement version with cups over the nipples couldn't be used, then retracted and said it could. Hardvice and others decided to test the rule by reporting other icons with bare breasts, including some of mothers breastfeeding their babies. When women started to get emails from LJ abuse telling them their default icons were inappropriate, they were told it was because they were "sexually explicit". People emailed LJ abuse in protest, and were told that write-in campaigns were never effective in influencing LJ.

The page of the FAQ covering default userpics had read that sexually explicit or graphically violent userpics were inappropriate. On May 20 it was changed to refer to nudity instead. LJ abuse says this has always been their policy and the FAQ was updated to reflect the policy accurately. We have no way of verifying this of course, and the abuse policy document still reads sexually explicit.

A number of blogs picked up on the story of LJ abuse saying customers' voices were never effective in swaying them, and criticized the customer service this represents. Meanwhile Carrie from ProMom.org set up a "3 minute action" form allowing people to email Six Apart/LiveJournal about the default icon ban (which LJ refined to say "no exposed female nipple or areola"). Over 1500 people sent emails.

Carrie also talked to representatives from Six Apart on the phone, and Doug Bryan of 6A posted in the breastfeeding community apologizing for some of the actions of the abuse team (people complained about the rudeness of their attitude). However people criticized the half-hearted nature of his apology, and continued to bring up issues he had not addressed.

When it appeared that no further dialog was going to be forthcoming and users were still being threatened with suspension, even though it was obvious that members of other communities were reporting icons because of longstanding drama between their communities and the breastfeeding communities, a press release was sent out and a small group of mothers met at Six Apart's headquarters and held a "nurse in." The press release lead to discussions on various blogs (and a tripling in traffic to this one!). Some of the mothers and their supporters declared a "Step Apart from Six Apart day" on which they would all delete their journals for the day in protest.

The situation at the moment is that LJ abuse are still reinforcing the no female nipple or areola rule (including in classic art and Mary breastfeeding Jesus pictures). At the nurse in Doug Bryan told people that he did not want to be "autocratic" with the abuse team volunteers, which suggested that he was more concerned with the opinions of a small group of volunteers than the opinions of thousands of LiveJournal users. However according to emails sent out by Denise Paolucci (who heads the LJ abuse team) they are going to be reviewing their policies over the next few months and promise to pay attention to users' feedback.

Though I have my doubts that everything that needs dealing with will be addressed, it is a step in the right direction and I'll keep on being hopeful.

There are currently 630 signatures on the petition and Christine tells me she plans on sending it off to 6A next week.

For those who want to read the background in more detail, here are links to each of my entries on it, which link to blog and LJ community posts too.

Breasts, now against a TOS near you
Contradictions
Changing the rules
Six Apart notified
LiveJournal and customer relations
Updates / response from Six Apart
Responses to Doug Bryan's post , more responses
Listening? Bullshit.
More comments from users
Still more comments from users
The Virgin Mary breaks the rules
Press Release from ProMom.org
Doug Bryan doesn't want to be autocratic with abuse team volunteers

Also see the Gallery of unacceptable default icons and ProMom's media pack.

Tags: , , , , ,

27 Comments:

Anonymous Yonmei said...

My journal has now been suspended.

My exchange with LJ Abuse is here.

Inspired by the "nipplegate" issue, a bunch of trolls had infested my journal - two posted three really foul pictures, one of them had a double account to foil being banned - and I'd asked LJ Abuse to deal with them. This was the response I got this afternoon.

9:51 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are SO full of shit.

10:45 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About yonmei's comment, how can they know if a violation is serious enough if they don't look at the comments to see and shouldn't they wait to suspend a journal until after they have dealt with outstanding issues like that? If she unscreened the comments people would be looking at sick pictures on her journal for days and the people who left them couuld delete them so LJ abuse couldn't see them. Those rules make no sense, if the person who owns the journal gives permission for them to look at screened comments they should look at them!

11:08 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LJ abuse needs to provide an open appeal process for suspensions, it's way to easy for them to say they give full reasons when they say they can't talk about them in public. REFORM LJ ABUSE!

3:54 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Than k you for this background. How did you get involved and why did you start writing about lj abuse?

1:11 AM

 
Anonymous Panda said...

Thank you for posting the email I recieved. I have hope, too. I'm also hoping that the email sent to me wasn't just to pacify us.

12:03 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks to me that by making a judgemental post calling those passionate about the issue "whackos" and "nutjobs", a heretofore silent moderator of the "boob_nazis" may have taken the wind out from people's sails and effectively undercut any and all progress that has been made. Perhaps she didn't want to be associated with the effort, but it was really dirty for her taint everyone else with her misguided pronouncements of opinion. Perhaps, she's on the payroll or has taken a payoff from LJ, but while this thing was still in progress, it was dirty and underhanded for her to have nipped it in the bud.

4:06 AM

 
Anonymous Panda said...

One more thing I have to say. If we could all repost the petition, either on LiveJournal, Myspace, or what have you, that would be great! Everyone please REPOST and get as many signatures as possible!!! Thanks!

12:14 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yonmei,
Just to let you know the person who started this blog is friends with the trolls you commented on. gerbilsage.

11:07 AM

 
Anonymous Yonmei said...

Anonymous, just to let you know: I've also been told by anonymous commenters that Gerbilsage is friends with someone on the LJ Abuse team, and that's why he hasn't been banned.

Indeed, I've been told a bunch of stuff by people in anonymous comments. On the whole, then - JFTR - I've decided not to believe anything anyone tells me in an anonymous comment, unless they can come up with a link or two to an independent website proving their point.

3:52 AM

 
Blogger Not Naive said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:59 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In all fairness, it is possible to have someone on your friends list without subscribing to all of their views or condoning their behaviour. Sometimes such people are kept around for purposes of debate or because they write fanfic or, well, any number of reasons that don't mean you don't think they can be complete assholes some of the time.

You can question whether the positives of having such people on one's friends list outweigh the negatives of them being total dicks at times, but that's really a personal choice. A lot of people have considerably more lenient standards for blogging "friends" than real-life ones. I don't think you should automatically tar a troll's entire friends list with the same brush.

That being said, I don't know what particular relationships do or do not exist between the maintainers of this blog and Yonmei's troll, but from my perspective, it is certainly possible for them to participate in and even enjoy exchanges with the troll while still disapproving of his trolly behavior.

1:56 AM

 
Anonymous HidingMyself said...

Since this thread has diverted into a defensive mode; I also don't have personal information about any relationship, but when I was first brought to these shores, I assumed that a blog focused on questioning lj-abuse would be run by someone with a vested interest. And, it really shouldn't lessen the debate or be used to divert attention from the question at hand. IMHO.

8:49 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it really shouldn't lessen the debate or be used to divert attention from the question at hand.

I agree 100%. If LJ Abuse is doing a piss poor job, it's doing a piss poor job. It's irrelevant with whom those who've run afoul of LJ Abuse are or are not friends; the problems still exist and need to be addressed.

2:08 AM

 
Anonymous Marni said...

I'm really glad you have this blog. After being threatened by someone on LJ and having my full name typed in his journal (which interfered with my business) and pointing this out to the abuse team with links from HIS journal, they said he was allowed to type that he "didn't like me" in his journal. If that was the case, it wouldn't have been so bad, but he was leaving endless comments, harassing my friends, adding himself to their journals, calling my home and threatening to hurt my mother in personal emails along with veiled passages in his own journal. He also aired personal facts out about me without my permission. I believe the LJ TOS has rules against that.

Livejournal is fucked at times, and they act on their own personal agenda's with no respect for those who they impose their "opinions" on.

Keep up the good work. I'd hate to see more people go through what I did.

7:57 AM

 
Anonymous Yonmei said...

Not Naive said... : Yonmei, here is your link

http://notnaive.blogspot.com


I'm seeing a repeat of the accusation, Not Naive, but no evidence. Repetition of accusation does not constitute evidence.

9:35 AM

 
Anonymous Yonmei said...

OtherAnonymous: You can question whether the positives of having such people on one's friends list outweigh the negatives of them being total dicks at times, but that's really a personal choice. A lot of people have considerably more lenient standards for blogging "friends" than real-life ones. I don't think you should automatically tar a troll's entire friends list with the same brush.

Excellent point: which was why I wanted LJ Abuse to act against the people on Gerbilsage's friends-list who had come over to my livejournal to harass me in response to his whining, rather than assume that everyone who had Gerbilsage friended would be coming over to harass me and preban the lot.

9:42 AM

 
Anonymous Carrie said...

Thank you for posting the update.

I am still working with SixApart and at a bare minimum, I've seen them begin to implement some of the changes that they've agreed to. We still have a long way to go, and it's going to take time.

I'm thankful to all of the support that users have received from those who breastfeed as well as those who don't. I've seen groups of men and women come together over this issue who probably would never have been friends otherwise and that is very encouraging as well.

Ultimately this issue still is, at a base level, about a woman's right to breastfeed and how large corporations such as SixApart either knowingly or unknowingly undermine the confidence of a mother or mother-to-be by insinuating that breastfeeding is not a normal biological function. I hope that at the end of all of this everyone involved can say that they've learned something.

2:09 PM

 
Anonymous Yonmei said...

Carrie: I am still working with SixApart and at a bare minimum, I've seen them begin to implement some of the changes that they've agreed to.

But LJ Abuse are still sending out suspension warning notices over default breastfeeding icons. So whatever changes they say they've agreed to, we're still in the position that SixApart are condemning icons of breastfeeding babies as unfit for public view.

2:32 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Not Naive" is a well known troll who has been harassing realcdaae for months. She's a drama whore.

1:45 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL Drama Queen Kim!

4:04 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In all fairness, it is possible to have someone on your friends list without subscribing to all of their views or condoning their behaviour. Sometimes such people are kept around for purposes of debate or because they write fanfic or, well, any number of reasons that don't mean you don't think they can be complete assholes some of the time.

cdaae argues with gerbilsage and calls him an asshole often. NotNaive has a big personal grudge, and she doesn't have her facts straight.

5:50 PM

 
Anonymous Supermouse said...

Who do I email to tell LJ that I won't be renewing my paid account because of their policies with regard to legal depictions of male vs female nipples?

11:46 AM

 
Blogger Jesurgislac said...

Who do I email to tell LJ that I won't be renewing my paid account because of their policies with regard to legal depictions of male vs female nipples?

Why bother? They won't care one way or the other: in fact, given that as a free account you'll be even more available for advertising, they'd probably prefer it.

12:18 AM

 
Anonymous Supermouse said...

You may have a point. That sponsorship revenue has to be worth a whole bundle.

10:33 PM

 
Blogger Tim said...

the overall problem with the LJ abuse team is a simple one and I find it here:

"Doug Bryan told people that he did not want to be "autocratic" with the abuse team volunteers"

abuse team volunteers. Wait, let me get this straight, one of the core teams for your business, the only one that enforces your terms of service, the only team with the power to suspend accounts, is a bunch of volunteers?

You have got to be kidding me. This is a core business function, it needs to be run by people who are knowledgeable, trained, intimately familiar with your terms of service (should probably have a staff lawyer to interpret the terms of service) and should be accountable for their actions.

LJ clearly has none of that since its abuse team isnt even not the payroll.

I also disagree with folks that say they don't have a legal case against six apart for the suspension of accounts. If you paid for your account and had it suspended for a reason which is not covered in the terms of service (which this particular one may or may not be) then you certainly have a claim that you have paid for something you have not received and it is clear that a small claims suit is applicable. You can bring this against Six apart yourself and do not need a lawyer. Im not suggesting that the 150 bucks is worth your time, but if enough people did this, eating up the time of the employees of six apart, I think you might actually see a significant change in policy.

Until these people are held accountable in some way for their actions, the abuse of this system will continue.

7:23 AM

 
Blogger Jesurgislac said...

Oh yeah: now - a year after the fact - have an open admission from Abe Hassan that Doug Bryan was lying through his shiny teeth when he claimed that the anti-breastfeeding policy was all LJ Abuse, not Six Apart at all.

5:49 AM

 

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