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

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Why LJ abuse needs to be answerable for its actions

Most of the posts here in the last week have been focused on the breastfeeding icons controversy, but I think it's good to be reminded of some of the other problems with LJ Abuse which the petition is calling on Six Apart to address.

LJAB referred to one of them towards the end of this post.

User shamanix went further and stated:

"As has been said in this community numerous times, the ability to view locked/private entries is limited to LiveJournal's actual employees, and is only used in cases of copyright complaints or violations of United States law."

This is a lie.

realcdaae replied: "Untrue in my case. There was no copyright complaint, and no alleged violation of US law. In fact on the first occassion, my journal was not reported at all - they thought I was [info]yellow_finch, who had been reported for breach of a NONC, and then went into [info]cdaae to have a look."

LJAB raised it again on this thread, where shamanix replied "What people report and what actually happen are sometimes two very different things, as I'm sure you're well aware."

Perhaps I should be charitable and assume that shamanix has not read any of the details of the case, but either way, accusing an LJ user of lying to support an inaccurate claim by the abuse team is hardly professional behaviour.

I have emailed Denise Paolucci, Mark Ferrell, and shamanix, to ask them directly what breach of copyright or US law was alleged in my case, and posed the same question to Doug Bryan. I have yet to receive any answer.

LJAB mentions communities suspended for "incitement to harass", and one such suspension also casts considerable doubt on whether LJ Abuse follows the policies they profess to be guided by. A community called theljcirclejerk was created, largely as a joke in response to a troll. It had closed membership and all posts were locked to members only. LJ Abuse says they only investigate specific violations reported to them, and that only paid employees can look at locked entries and then only in cases of breach of copyright or US law.

How then did theljcirclejerk get suspended? No one in the community reported any of its posts, and there was certainly no breach of copyright or US law. Yet the locked posts of the community were read through, and members threatened with suspensions and perma-bans. A member had suggested that other members apply to join a support-related community, and the sudden rush of applicants who were all members of another particular community apparently lead to someone deciding to have a look. The post was deemed incitement to harass.

You may well feel that the abuse team has every right to look into such communities, but I think the least we can ask is that they be honest about it.

Don't forget the Call to Action, and spread the petition link around!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

nearly 300 on the petition, not too shabby

2:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


3:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Erin's poll about it is worded totally wrong. It's not just nipple it's areola, so lots of breastfeeding women aren't showing nipple, just a bit of areola if they're big. Also people are voting no because they think there shouldn't be a rule against naked breasts at all so long as they're not actually sexual.

Go vote Yes, because Erin is on the abuse team and the CF people got ahold of it and all voted no.

4:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is exactly the kind of sickening hypocrisy that makes me hate them.

5:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if they will bother trying to justify this or ignore it.

oh wait, no I don't, it'll be ignore it .

6:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:58 PM

Blogger panda cookie said...

It's this sort of dishonesty and unprofessionalism that is turning me off to LiveJournal. I've been considering moving my private blog to WordPress for the past couple of days. Still thinking about it. If I didn't love my friends, I'd just go.

10:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not involved with 6A/LJ as anything other than a user.

I have, however, worked for several abuse teams and departments for various Internet providers and online communities. I'd like to offer a statistic from that experience that might shed some light on why LiveJournal hasn't really bothered to do much about this situation:

Across all those jobs and over a decade of activity, total abuse department encounters and interventions added up to less than one percent of all active users.

Consider this in the context of active community members conversing with 6A/LJ's executive staff last week. Those conversations took place with the people who could easily wave their hands and make changes in policy appear instantly. Nothing has changed. Do we think this is because they're truly interested in starting a dialog? Do we think it's because they haven't heard enough people shout at a suitable volume?

Or is it perhaps they're aware of the scale of this protest in a way we're not?

Another item for perspective: Abuse departments tend to operate non-transparently to the user, though it's rarely that way on the corporate end. In fact, it's probably the most closely watched department outside of the revenue generation channels. Companies truly do not like giving up actual or potential revenue unless they absolutely must.

Let me repeat that: LJ Abuse is likely doing its job with the full support and oversight of its corporate masters. This is probably not reassuring to many of you. I really only bring it up because of the demands of seen for "full accountability" and "auditing" -- those things are probably already happening.


And since I'm on a roll with defeatist talk that no one wants to hear, let's take a moment to reflect on the prospects of contacting the media.

1. This is not the sexy version of censorship. By sexy, I mean an instance where actual content is deleted or prohibited from being viewed. Once you start explaining that, no, LJ isn't deleting any content, just not permitting its display as default, most editors are going to lose interest. Too much explanation for Ma and Pa Reader.

2. To explain the default icon issue at the root of the problem here, you have to educate the reporter on the way LJ works. How a post is made, the difference between a personal journal and a community journal. How icons are used.

3. Once you've got that down, you can explain why LJ Abuse is doing something you consider offensive and ridiculous.

4. Oh, wait. Before you do that, you'll need to have a quick primer available regarding lactivism, recent advances (be sure to be regional-specific for local print and TV outlets) and why what LJ has done has struck a nerve with so many in the community.

Once you've done all that, it's a good time to whip out that offensive icon collection for the still-interested reporters to take a look at.

Also, bear in mind that you're going to have to make this all into easily-digestible pablum that can be accurately condensed into a single, nigh-unrefutable-by-6A/LJ paragraph or 60-second blurb on the evening news.

Best of luck to you. I mean that, seriously. Everyone I've ever brought up these points will say "Yabbut... we're different!" and I don't mean to mock that. There's always an exception, and perhaps you'll be that exception!

11:52 PM

Blogger cdaae13 said...

I agree, anonymous... I really doubt a general media outlet is going to give a shit about LJ icons. I think the attention will have to be drawn to popular bloggers, where the audience will at least have a bit of a clue what's going on.

11:30 AM

Blogger cdaae13 said...

The entry for Erin's poll is locked.... Was it always, or did she close it? What did it say?

11:30 AM

Blogger Christine said...

She locked the vote entry? Huh.

It was just asking if people thought breastfeeding entries should be exempt from the "no nipple" rule, which was a distortion of the issue anyway. Last time I looked it was close to 50/50.

Anon: I doubt that LJ Abuse is acting with the oversight of their corporate masters in quite a few areas, or they wouldn't make such stupid mistakes at times. But maybe I'm over-estimating Six Apart. It seems quite likely that if 6A ever ask questions of the abuse team, they ask the managers, who just defend whatever the team does. I'm doubtful that anyone else ever looks at the cases in depth.

I agree that the general media isn't going to be particularly interested in a story about breastfeeding icons (though the feminist and mothering media is quite large, and they'll be interested). The general attitude of LJ/6A to customer service is a wider matter though, which is why personally I think we should draw attention to the *many* problems with them, not just the issue over icons.

Even if the general media aren't interested, more bloggers will pick it up, and word will spread.

1:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon the difference with your organization and SA/LJ is probably a lot to do with professionalism and being organized and paid.

LJ's abuse team is a rag-tad team made of volunteers scattered all over the country .
There's nothing centralized or professional about the team.

It's quite often that you'll have one team member contradicting another.

If I'm paying for a service can I at least have an abuse team made up of professionals instead of one that's consisted of a bunch of latent teenagers with axes to grind because they may have had past relationship drama with someone.

1:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Erin locked the entry because she's on
the abuse team, She asked the question in a very biased manner and the freetards got hold of the poll.

She didn't word her post or the poll the right way. Therefore, the results would have been very skewed.
I thought it was a bit underhand for her to be doing it in the first place.

1:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

some of the media might be more interested in invasion of privacy and lying about the circumstances and privacy rules than they are in breastfeeding icons....

3:04 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone who disagrees with us = "freetards".

I hope they suspend all of you.

9:09 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone who disagrees with us = "freetards".


1:58 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

ONE person says that and you apply it to everyone. What a moron.


1:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"freetards" - rabid childfree idiots, you dumbass.

6:06 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're very hostile. One person said that, not all of us. Geez.

11:09 AM


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