We wanted to take some steps to fix both of these problems.
First, we’ve reached out to a large number of you and we’re listening to your feedback. Thank you so much to all of you who believe in the ability for all of us to work together, who've contributed so much to helping us get this stuff straightened out. This post won't address every single concern, but it's the first step of an ongoing process. We do think our actions will be a pretty good reminder that we’re all part of the same community here, and that we’re all ultimately on the same side.
There have been a bunch of clarifications of our policies here in lj_biz during recent weeks, and of course tons of discussion. And there's been a lot of work to try and get everyone who is really curious and concerned about this issue up to speed. But the bottom line is, our policy needs to be something that every LiveJournal member can understand, and it needs to be clearly available to everyone.
So, we're working on creating a single policy document that is linked from the bottom of every page in the LiveJournal application. To be completely honest, it's going to take us a little bit of time to get that done, since we want to work with everyone from our community as well as the usual folks like lawyers. We think it will be a few weeks, and we'll update on progress as that happens.
But first, some solid progress we can talk about right now: Today we're announcing a revision to the process of how we deal with reports of child pornography. (Please note: We *know* there's a difference between the vast majority of fan art and child porn. We're definitely not lumping these things together.)
To start with, the ground rules: We accept all reports of potential child pornography that are reported to us, regardless of the source, but will only take action when that material violates our policies. That means we will accept reports even from people or groups that are annoying or have an axe to grind, but if content is not in violation of the policy, it won't have any effect. We will only review private content for violations of this policy if the report provides a reasonable basis for us to believe that there is a violation. We will absolutely *not* review private content in response to an unsubstantiated report that there is a violation “somewhere” in a private journal or community.
And now the solid progress: Today we are making a significant distinction between how we deal with (a) photographs, films and videos versus (b) drawings, cartoons, animations and non-photographic images:
(a) Photographs, films and videos of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct are explicably illegal. The bottom line here is, even photos/videos that are borderline or questionable are going to be considered violations of policy. There's honestly almost nobody arguing against this, so we won't dwell on it too much. Child pornography in the form of photographs, films and videos will be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a clearinghouse for law enforcement agencies that investigate and prosecute child pornography. All journals of the user who posted the content will be permanently suspended without advance warning and the user will be blocked from creating new LiveJournal accounts in the future. This is the clear zero-tolerance zone, and doesn't seem like the sort of thing that significantly affects communities like fandom at all, from our experience.
(b) Our process for drawings, cartoons, animation and other non-photographic images is slightly different. An image of this type that obviously violates our policy will be treated the same as a photographic image of child pornography, but in questionable cases involving a non-photographic image we will adopt a "two strikes" process. We will first contact the user and request that the image, and any other similar images, be voluntarily deleted (or modified) within three days. If there's no response within three days, we'll proceed with suspension. In the worst case, if someone was completely incommunicado during those three days, they could go through the appeal process. If we receive a second report of child pornography involving the same user in the future, and confirm that the reported content violates our policy, then all journals of the user will be permanently suspended without another warning and the user will be blocked from creating new LiveJournal accounts in the future.
Yep, these are slight changes from our policy before. We think they're fairer and clearer, and that's thanks to the folks who've taken the time to work with us. We appreciate the patience while we got these first two policy issues sorted out.
One disclaimer: We can't make policy judgments in response to hypothetical situations. Some of you are asking for us to do this in hopes that it will help you understand the policy better, but we simply can't outline or anticipate every single situation before it happens. And any place where every single possible line of discussion has been dissected and ruled either okay or not just doesn't sound like a fun place to hang out. The truth is, we want everybody in the LJ community to feel safe about what they're writing or sharing, and we think almost everybody has a gut sense of what's reasonable.
We're hoping to give you enough of an understanding so that you can use your own judgment on how and where to post your content. If you're really, really concerned that something you're about to post might violate our policy and will be seen by someone who will take action to report it to us, then perhaps you should think twice before posting it. But we're not going out looking for harmless stuff to take down.
Many of you have asked about whether or not it is OK to link to outside content that falls into the category of child pornography, and the short answer is no, it's not OK. Think about it: If we said it was OK across the board to link to child pornography, then people would make communities just to do so. But again, any reasonable link is fine. And the same thing applies here: If you're really, really concerned that something you're about to link to might violate our policy and be seen by someone who will take action to report it to us, then you know, just don't link to it. In the case of questionable links, we'll use the "two strikes" process.
One last note: This new process might have changed the way that two members were recently permanently suspended without warning. In respect to their privacy, we aren't going to get into details of any individual suspensions. But you should know we are reaching out to these people and that our conversations with them and with you have helped shape the new policy changes.
Our goal and intention is to get this right, so that our community feels clear about our stance. We're never going to make a set of rules that makes everybody 100% comfortable, but we do think, with your help, we can get something that suits everyone and that has a process everybody can agree with. Naturally, some of you will feel more comfortable going somewhere with more relaxed rules and guidelines and we respect that decision. But most of you have stuck with us while we've figured it out and we really appreciate it – you've made the difference, and you've helped build a better process.