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

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Press Release: LiveJournal and Six Apart


Popular Blogging Site Restricts Use of Breastfeeding Photos:
LiveJournal cites images as 'inappropriate' and sends mothers to the virtual restroom.

Carrie Patterson
Executive Director, ProMoM.Org

Popular Blogging Site Restricts Use of Breastfeeding Photos:
LiveJournal cites images as 'inappropriate' and sends mothers to the virtual restroom.

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006 - Women on the popular blog site LiveJournal are calling foul at the company’s decision to brand images of breastfeeding as ‘inappropriate.’ Many users of the site have joined together to urge LiveJournal’s parent company SixApart to address their concerns and reevaluate the policy.

Small "userpics" of no more than 100 by 100 pixels represent LiveJournal members throughout the site. Users can define one of these icons as "default icon" which plugs it into the user's public profile. These default icons were originally not permitted to be ‘sexually explicit or graphically violent.’ Recently, icons which depicted breastfeeding were cited as being ‘inappropriate’ by the LiveJournal abuse team, a group of volunteers who monitor complaints on the site. After clarification was requested, LiveJournal changed their FAQ to reflect a no nudity rule and is claiming that icons with visible areola or nipple are not permitted. Whether or not areola is visible in a photograph is dependent on a number of factors, including skin tone of the mother and physical changes during pregnancy.

Claimed Live Journal Abuse Staffer 'Erin' in a post on the site, "That's really a matter for the FCC to decide. LiveJournal's policies on this mirror what would be allowed on primetime TV or in a PG-13 movie." However, this is not true. The FCC does not consider the act of breastfeeding on television to fall under the definitions of indecency or obscenity.

Breastfeeding is exempt from nudity laws throughout the United States as well as countries such as Canada. Advocates are urging LiveJournal to adopt the same criteria. "It is regrettable that LiveJournal has chosen to target breastfeeding mothers instead of standing up for the protection provided them by law," says Carrie Patterson, executive director of, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing public awareness and public acceptance of breastfeeding. Advocates state that the feeling that breastfeeding should be hidden only fosters the idea that the natural act of nourishing a child is scandalous.

Breastfeeding bloggers who have refused to change their default icon have been suspended from the site. These users, as well as others questioning the policy, have been treated poorly by the site’s volunteer abuse team, something that is not unusual according to other site users.

More than 1,000 LiveJournal users complained, and SixApart issued an apology to the group. However, the company refuses to consider modifying their policy and continues to suspend users whose default icons are deemed inappropriate. Although LiveJournal stated a clarified rule, mothers are still reporting major inconsistencies in its application.

The breastfeeding debacle is only the most recent in a long line of incidents that have people wondering if the abuse procedures as a whole should be reviewed for fairness and propriety. Complaints have been raised about users' privacy, inconsistent enforcement of the Terms of Service, conflicting information and responses from abuse team members, and discourteous replies to users seeking clarification on the rules.

Activists are now working together to get this policy changed and to clarify the policies and procedures of the LiveJournal abuse team. While some are refusing to continue paying for the service, others have moved to different journaling websites to protest what they feel is a violation of their rights.

For more information, contact Carrie Patterson at 678-513-6329 or or visit


I will be acting as press contact for this blog.
Media inquiries to: Christine D. Clemens,

Don't forget the petition!

Some past posts on this topic:
LiveJournal and Customer Relations
Breasts - now against a TOS near you
Changing the Rules
Six Apart's Response + part two
More comments and yet more comments, from customers of LJ/6A.
LJ Abuse in Action

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well good luck to the boob nazis, I hope they get lots of publicity and Six Apart opens their damn eyes.

2:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know what they say about the female of the species, particularly the ones with young infants!!

2:25 PM

Blogger Jesurgislac said...

Blog about the Step Apart from Six Apart on 6/6/6 campaign here too? The more people who do it from midnight to midnight on Tuesday, the more of a bite it'll make in the LJ stats.

3:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

God I hope this gets media attention!!

4:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't forget the nurse in!

4:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

why would someone quote themself in their own media release? why not quote another advocate who is equally annoyed?

12:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's pretty usual to quote the representative of the organization sending out the press release.

4:51 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So how's that working out for you? Where are all the links to the major mainstream media stories covering this?



11:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

at least it's being talked about and linked to from more sites and blogs. word gets around.

5:20 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I knew that would bring out the blog coverage answer. Funny how the blogs were pretty much ignored by everyone until they realized it was the only coverage they would get.

And The Register piece.

I've seen the blog coverage, especially outside of the pro-breastfeeding camp. And since most of them also feature comments I've seen what people have had to say.

To color that coverage as a success in any way, shape, or form is pharmaceutical grade denial.

6:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What did you think people were trying for, the cover of the New York Times?

7:27 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What did you think people were trying for, the cover of the New York Times?

I honestly have no idea what the ambitions or goals of a group of people threatening to make phone calls to the ACLU over their default userpics might be. Care to enlighten?

9:25 PM


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