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November 2008



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Nov. 25th, 2008

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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:

Old versionCollapse )

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

New versionCollapse )


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 "exampleusersname.independentminds.livejournal.com" 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.

Dec. 7th, 2007

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Adult Content Flagging

A new post has been made in lj_policy which includes some updated information on the Adult Content Flagging system.

Nov. 30th, 2007

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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 ConnectSafely.org. 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.

Nov. 29th, 2007

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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.

Oct. 26th, 2007

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DonorsChoose.org Blogger Challenge

Amazing things are happening with the DonorsChoose.org 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 DonorsChoose.org.

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!

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