I decided to spend my weekend doing something else without so much as checking my email until Sunday night, only to find my mailbox had been flooded with letters regarding LiveJournal Abuse wanting to censor a post of ana's, showing, amongst other things, a bloody tampon. Damn. Why can't I get a few days rest without having to deal with something traumatic popping up?
I just wanted you all to know that in this particular case, the TOS was misinterpreted. We do have a problem with obscenity in journals, primarily because we don't want to turn into a porn site, or have journals covered head-to-toe in porn banner ads. Since we allow minors to use the site, we need to make sure that we have some policies regarding obscenity, otherwise we risk all sorts of nasty things like lawsuits, arrest, confiscation of the site, losing our connectivity, etc. The owners of a website in the Bay Area were extradited to a more conservative state, put in jail for over a year, the site shut down, all their hardware confiscated... all because of allowing users to share files -- some pornographic, some not. While I would like to say "anything goes", not everything can.
The question, however, is whether this was obscene?
We have a document that abuse uses to assist in resolving abuse issues which outlines our precedent from previous decisions. It states specifically "It is important to distinguish obscenity that may be considered artistic in nature from that which is created for the sole purpose of being obscene."
There are two big issues here... is there reasonable doubt that ana's post may be considered artistic? I would say so. Is there evidence that indicates that it wasn't posted for the sole purpose of being obscene? Yes. Therefore, there is no violation of the Terms of Service. If people visit someone's journal, they do so by choice, and should have an inkling of what kind of content might be there.
Now, here is where we have to draw a distinction... if she took the same pictures and made them her user picture, or posted them on someone else's journal, who then complained, we would have an issue with it. Why? Because in that case, there would be no choice as to whether to view it or not... short of not using LiveJournal at all. That isn't an option. LiveJournal isn't supposed to be an adult site... it is supposed to be a site used by adults and minors. I've always thought that we should have a way of people posting so that only those 18+ can see certain posts, but that means adult verification and opens up another can of worms...
Frankly, it pisses me off that we received several complaints from users about what ana posted in her journal. In other words, people were complaining about what someone else put in their own journal when it didn't effect them at all. Here's a big clue to these folks... if you don't like what someone has to say/show/etc. don't visit their site!
Unlike what people are advocating in schools these days, I can honestly tell you that LiveJournal doesn't want to have any part in the whole "snitch on your friends" trend out there today... we don't need a nation of snitches. In other words, be very sure that before you report an abuse issue, there is a clear and obvious violation of the Terms of Service.