June 20th, 2007


goals and guidelines

As promised, I want to clarify any confusion there may have been about our policies regarding your content on LiveJournal.

Our number one goal is to encourage and promote a free and open community. We will only intervene to the extent needed to avoid the site being used as a vehicle for illegal activities. The policies are simple.

  • We do not review content until it is reported to us.

  • With regards to illegal or harmful content, our policies are:

    • No illegal content. There is little content that is truly illegal in the United States but it is an important note that SOME content does violate the laws of the United States where our data is kept. Child pornography is a clear example.

    • No content that is created to plan, encourage, or advocate hate crimes, the abuse of children, or rape. I understand that there may be some that believe that the advocacy of these things may be valid discussion, but we simply do not have an interest in hosting this type of content.

    • No content which is meant to plan, solicit the commission of, seek customers for, or provide instructions for serious illegal activities which could cause harm to others.

  • Political, philosophical, religious and artistic discussion is encouraged and protected as long as it does not violate any of the guidelines listed above.

Your profile is part of your journal. If your profile, taken as a whole, breaks these policies, we will treat it the same as if it were in an entry or comment. For years, we have had these policies, but there were aspects of them that were not as clear as desired. We are making no major policy changes, we have made no changes to the TOS, and we do not anticipate making any changes in the future.

We are also reviewing our internal procedures and the communications we use to explain those procedures. We will also work on ways to make it easier for the community to report abusive or offensive content. I hope this makes things a lot clearer for everyone.
me, fearless leader
  • burr86

what happened: a recap

We've been reading all your comments in response to our announcements, and we've been working to address many of the issues you've brought up. I thought it would be helpful to offer both a recap of what happened and what the errors and misconceptions are. There's a lot of confusion floating around -- understandably so -- and so we wanted to make sure we were all on the same page in that regard.

What Happened

We've been reviewing our policy regarding illegal activity on LiveJournal for several months (long before we received reports from any outside organizations). We found ways that we could more strictly enforce our policy to make a better effort at preventing people from using LiveJournal to organize, encourage, or participate in activities such as the sexual abuse of children. In particular, we wanted to make sure that we were evaluating profiles the same way we evaluate journals or entries themselves.

We've always had a policy preventing the promotion or solicitation of any illegal activity. There were several miscommunications internally regarding the changes we wanted to make in enforcement, and what we enforced prohibited listing any illegal activity as an interest. We then began to evaluate journals that were reported to us, and suspended journals and communities based on interests they listed. (Many of those journals were later unsuspended.)

Some Errors and Misconceptions

* We don't actively search for any violations of our Terms of Service. Any journal that we review must be reported to us first. To be specific, every journal that was suspended a few weeks ago was reported to us -- we didn't search for these journals. We receive some legal protection if we only act on reports we receive (not to mention that it's a sheer impracticality for us to do otherwise).

* We never intended for our policies to be enforced in a way that prohibited users from listing illegal interests, though this misinterpretation (on our part) is what resulted in the suspensions in the first place. Our goal was to make sure that profiles were being held to the same standards as other content. To be clear: listing an illegal activity in your interests list isn't a violation of the Terms of Service in isolation, and we won't equate individual interests with activities you support or advocate. Instead, we will consider journals and profiles as a whole, in context, to determine whether they violate our policies.

* Whenever we make large-scale policy changes, we will ensure to communicate these in advance to the community. We will never change our policies because any individual, organization, or corporation wants us to. We didn't change our policy in this situation, either, but various misinterpratations internally meant that what was enforced wasn't what we intended to enforce. Moving forward, we're going to be extra careful in making sure we avoid these sorts of miscommunications internally.

* We dropped the ball in our communication to the community in the hours and first few days after we realized our mistake, and we're very sorry for that. This does tie into the previous point: it took us quite some time to sort through what had happened. (And, yes, in the future we're going to be much better about communicating things out to you guys, faster.)

Barak will be posting in a little bit to reiterate our policy on illegal content. We know that a lot of people are worried -- but please understand that the policies haven't changed. We made a mistake in enforcing the policies in a high-profile instance that affected hundreds of accounts, and we've been working ever since to correct that mistake. Hopefully this post and Barak's post answered the questions you had. (And, as ever, we're still reading the comments, even if we can't reply to each one individually.)