Sand logo

Changes to the LiveJournal Privacy Policy

We're amending our Privacy Policy to catch up to our current practices regarding third-party advertising, cookies, and web beacons (including HitBox, see below). We wanted to let you know why we're making these changes and what they mean for you as a LiveJournal user.

Privacy Policy Changes:

Our Policy used to include the following paragraph about Third Party Advertising:

Collapse )

We have amended that section (and that section only), and replaced it with this:

Collapse )


In the past, we have acknowledged the use of web beacons in various communications to you, specifically here (regarding HitBox) and here (regarding Omniture). In general, however, the proper and accepted place to disclose changes to policies around cookies and web beacons is in a Privacy Policy. This is especially true as new users who are new to LJ might not be aware of all the various official LiveJournal communities. This update to the Privacy Policy is not a change in our practices; it is simply disclosing our current practices on the site, aggregating that information in one place, and having it available to all our users.

Our purpose in amending our Privacy Policy now is to acknowledge and codify changes on our site related to data collection by ad networks, and to provide a location for all users to go to if they want to see the ad networks LiveJournal has relationships with. If you want to manage the cookies set by these ad networks, you can do so by visiting the sites listed in our Privacy Policy.


In 2005, LiveJournal had a relationship with HitBox, as mentioned above. Although we have not been using HitBox web beacon tags for quite some time, we're going to start using them again because of our new relationship with The Independent newspaper in the UK. We're doing this so we can accurately count the number of page views on The Independent newspaper's blogging and community sites that are "powered by LiveJournal". For more information on this partnership, check out the news post.

First, a bit of history: HitBox was created by the web analytics company WebSideStory, which was acquired by Omniture in October 2007. HitBox is now part of a larger web analytics service called SiteCatalyst HBX. Through its various incarnations, some anti-spyware companies have identified HitBox as malware or adware. Strictly speaking, at one point in time there may have been some cause for concern about HitBox web beacons and cookies. We feel there should no longer be any cause for alarm by users finding HitBox beacons on their pages. This is in part due to HitBox now being part of Omniture, a larger organization that we have had a successful relationship with for quite some time now.

Although we think there is no cause for alarm, we recognize that some LJ users might feel differently. That is why we have included a link to their privacy statement in our Privacy Policy. At the bottom of their privacy statement is a HitBox opt-out link:

EDIT: We're providing this direct link to our users due to previous concerns with HitBox. LiveJournal uses HitBox web beacon tags only on pages with the cobranded Independent/LiveJournal layouts (including journals, such as those ending with "" URLs), and nowhere else on the site. HitBox tags are used on those pages to ensure an accurate third-party count of the pages being served by LiveJournal that have layouts that are cobranded with The Independent. The reporting is anonymous and no personally identifiable information is transferred; they're only there to provide a count to understand unique visitors to these pages.
Carved logo

Update on adult flagging concerns

We've been reading your comments and want to talk about some of the questions that have come up the most often. These are just the top things that we want to clarify and we'll update in more detail again next week if there's more that needs to be addressed.

Most importantly, logged in users over 18 will not see any of the changes made by the settings of this program unless they choose to. You won't see any of the lj-cuts related to this system and your friends page will appear exactly as it always has. We feel it's important that this doesn't impact adults using LiveJournal.

Abuse of content flagging
It's important to note that one user flagging another's content doesn't do anything automatically. It is just a simple step to create a notice you'd like that content reviewed. Only the content most frequently flagged will ever get reviewed. Nothing happens if the content isn't consistent with why it's being flagged. Having your content flagged won't result in your content being reviewed for anything else.

There are no settings (or "flags") for the last three options on the flagging page. Those three options lead directly to opening an abuse request, which asks for the direct URL of the content. Those reports will be handled the usual way and there's no change to that process because of this program.

As additional measures to prevent abuse of the flags, only accounts registered for over a month may use the flagging feature, and use of the flags is limited to five per user every twenty-four hours. Misuse of this sytem will result in the user's flags not counting towards the threshold for review.

Definition of Adult Concepts
The Adult Concepts setting is only a voluntary setting - it's not an option to flag and there's no administrative setting for it. The definition of that content is completely up to the author of the content.

How this system determines the age of the user
The date of birth used when you create your account is the way that your age is calculated by LiveJournal. If you did not enter a date of birth when you registered, it will default to the date on your profile (which you can enter but hide on the Edit Profile page). If a user has not entered a date of birth, the first time they click on an lj-cut generated by these systems they will be prompted to enter a date of birth. That will then be the system-recorded age (so they shouldn't have to enter it again).

Friends-only content
This system will not accept flags on friends-only content. Although a flag icon may be present on the navigational strip, if you click it while viewing friends-only content it will only give you the option to flag the journal. Friends-only content is not affected by or included in any part of this system.

If something is not working as we describe please open a support request and we will look into it.

This system is a response to the question of how to handle adult content for minors but requires participation and supervision on the part of parents. On the bottom of every main page on LiveJournal there is a link to online safety tips from We've set this up in such a way that it should not interfere with the experience of users who are 18 and over and is still something that can assist parents.
Carved logo

New Settings & Flagging Tools

In an effort to ensure people under the age of 18 do not see inappropriate content, we added a new functionality to LiveJournal today. Ultimately, this functionality will affect a very small percentage of the millions of LJ users, but we want to be sure everyone has a clear understanding of how it works and why we've implemented this change.

At LiveJournal, we recognize that there is some content that may be fine for adults, but not for kids. We don't want kids seeing content that's not meant for them, and we know you don't either. LiveJournal wants to prevent minors from seeing adult content in a way that does not interfere with the experience of users who are 18 and over. The ability to set entries, journals, and communities as either "Adult Concepts" or "Explicit Adult Content" is a functionality community maintainers and users have been requesting for a long time. As a result, we've created a set of tools that give you control over whether the things you create and share on LJ are accessible to people under the age of 18.

We've outlined the changes in detail below, and also in the FAQs, but in brief:
  • Adults will remain able to see all content on the site unless prevented by the exisiting security settings.
  • The primary goal is to give you the ability to mark your own content so that kids aren't seeing stuff that is meant for adults.
  • You now have the option to flag other people's content that you think is inappropriate for users under the age of 18. However, nothing will happen to that content unless multiple people flag it. Only then will it be sent to the Abuse Prevention Team for review.
  • If your content is flagged by other users, adults will still be able to access it as long as they have the appropriate permissions.
We hope you're happy with our solution and look forward to your comments and feedback. Want to know more? Keep reading...

How Does the Voluntary Adult Setting Work?

You may voluntarily mark any entry you create, your entire journal, or a community you maintain as either "Adult Concepts" or "Explicit Adult Content." These are defined as follows:

Adult Concepts: Content that is not explicitly graphic, but may contain mature themes that could be inappropriate for anyone under the age of 14.

Explicit Adult Content: Content that is graphic and explicit (depicting nudity, sexuality, or violence) that is appropriate only for adults and is not suitable for anyone under the age of 18. This label does not imply that the content is considered obscene, just that it is not appropriate for minors. We recommend that a journal or community is set as "Explicit Content" if more than 50% of the total entries have graphic or explicit images or text.

Users under the age of 18 will automatically be blocked from joining communities or seeing content marked as "Explicit Adult Content." However, users who are between the ages of 14 and 17 will be able to join communities marked as "Adult Concepts" and content marked in that manner will be viewable to them. This will alleviate the need for community maintainers to screen every user who joins a community.

If you would like to voluntarily mark your entry, journal, or community as containing adult content, you can do so on the Settings page for your journal, or on the Update/Edit page of any entry. You do not use the flag icon to mark your own content. (In fact, you won't even see it within your own journal.) The flag icons are for reporting content you don't own. Which leads us to the next question....

 How Can I Flag Content I Feel Is Inappropriate?

While we offer users the opportunity to accurately use the adult content settings within their own journals, we are aware that this will not always be the case, which is why we've additionally created the functionality to allow users to flag content they feel is inappropriate. Please note that content visibility will NOT be affected just because someone flags it. Only after the content has been reviewed by the Abuse Prevention Team will a decision be made as to whether or not it warrants an adult content setting.

Users who choose to flag another person's entry, journal, or community will be given five options: "Explicit Adult Content," "Offensive Content," "Hate Speech," "Illegal Activity," or "Nude Images of Minors." If the user flags the content as "Explicit Adult" or "Offensive Content," the content will automatically go into a moderation queue. If and when content has been flagged by several users, it will be sent to the Abuse Prevention Team to determine if an adult content setting is necessary. Both the "Explicit Adult Content" and "Offensive Content" settings will affect filtered search results (see below), but only the "Explicit Adult" setting will result in restricted viewing for those under the age of 18.

Any content flagged as "Hate Speech," "Illegal Activity," or "Nude Images of Minors" will direct the user to the Abuse Reporting System where he/she will be asked to fill out a report including the URL of the content. These instances will be handled in the same manner as always.

How Will This Affect My Search Results?

There are three Safe Search filtering options, which are as follows:

Use Moderate Filtering (default setting): Filters only explicit adult content.
Use Strict Filtering: Filters both adult concepts and explicit adult content.
Do Not Filter Results: All search results will display, including those marked as explicit adult content and adult concepts.

You can change your search settings on the Settings page.


We realize you may have a lot of questions about this new functionality, and we are happy to announce that marta has joined the LJ Team to help out with customer service and community issues. Marta, also known as pheret1, has been an active member of the LiveJournal community since 2002, and comes to us with over a decade of customer service experience. We are incredibly lucky to have her on the team.

If you can't find the answers you're looking for in the FAQ, Marta will be able to answer any questions you leave in the comments, and explain anything you may need clarified about this change. Again, we feel strongly that this functionality is good for LJ and we want to make sure you feel the same way. We think we've done a good job of creating a set of tools that are flexible and fair, but we are listening. If you have any feedback about the new flagging system, we want to hear it. We're always open to suggestions for improvements. Just let us know what you think in the comments.
Carved logo Blogger Challenge

Amazing things are happening with the Blogger Challenge. Thus far, over $260,000 in the form of books, supplies, technology, and other resources has been raised for more than 30,000 students from low-income families. Within 3 weeks, the Challenge has prompted nearly 2000 blog readers to donate to classroom projects in high-need schools.

You can see how all the leaders are performing (including Stephen Colbert, Mitt Romney and a Brooklyn woman who has raised more than $100,000) at

The Blogger Challenge ends October 31st which means there are still six days left for YOU to make a difference in the lives of public school students. As we mentioned previously, Six Apart will be giving awards to the bloggers who help the greatest number of students. Which project are you supporting? How many lives will you change? Let us know in the comments!
  • Current Mood
    thankful thankful
Carved logo

Participate in the Blogger Challenge & Help Students and Schools

One of the best kept secrets about the LiveJournal community is how incredibly generous you all are. It's not just the fact that so many of you volunteer to help LJ out, or are such active participants in communities online. It's what you do to support communities offline that makes us so proud of what LJ is. (A recent example was the way you all raised hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of donations for non-profit organizations like Creative Commons, and EFF. RAINN alone got a generous donation of over $60,000 from our community!

Collapse )
  • Current Mood
    hopeful hopeful
Carved logo

Updates to Omniture on LiveJournal

We’re making a change to the way we've been gathering statistics on LiveJournal and wanted to let you know the plan and details in advance.

Back in January, we announced that we'd start using Omniture SiteCatalyst as the system that lets us dig deeper into how members and visitors use LiveJournal. Back then, we had only used Omniture's tracking on the site-schemed pages of LiveJournal (those are the ones with the LJ menus and header, not the ones that follow your journal's style).

With this new change, we'll now also use Omniture on a very small random sampling (about 5%) of journals and communities, including profile pages, friends pages and comment pages. This change will take place on or after September 27, 2007.

Omniture is a website analytics service. The system will collect information that's pretty straightforward, including what browser you're using, what site scheme you use, your window size, how people travel through the site (what are the common links, where are people going after viewing their friends page, what people are or aren't clicking on), and things like how many page views different parts of the site get.

With this change we will be able to learn more about how you use the site and what areas are confusing or are in need of improvement. We'll also have a good way to help prioritize all of your suggestions based on what people actually use.

Some key points:

* We're only going to apply the cookie to a very small random sampling of users, about 5%.
* We're using the resulting stats to find out what to focus on in the future for LJ.
* The Omniture code doesn’t capture any private data such as payment information provided in the Gift Shop.
* Omniture does not have access to friends-only or private entries.
* You can opt out, and if you've already opted out, you'll stay that way.

As always, we are providing a way for any user to opt out of contributing to the stats-gathering (even though we know it runs the risk of statistically biasing our results). If you’d like to opt out, go to the Admin Console and type "set opt_exclude_stats 1". This opt out applies to the entire implementation of Omniture -- site-schemed pages and the new inclusion of journals, profiles and communities. If you've already opted out, you don't need to do so again.

We're looking forward to having more detailed data to help us make decisions about the best ways to improve the site!
Carved logo

Process Change for Non-Photographic Images

Hey, everybody. We've heard loud and clear that a lot of you are worried about whether the policy clarifications we've been talking about are going to affect you or your communities. And there's of course a lot of frustration with some of the communications that have been going on.

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.
  • Current Mood
    optimistic optimistic