Hundreds of LiveJournal users found that out the hard way Wednesday when the blog hosting site suspended around 500 of its community journals and blogs for violating its policy barring the posting of content about rape, pedophilia and sexual violence.
The result was a massive user revolt. LiveJournal’s parent company, San Francisco’s Six Apart, received a flood of complaints from locked out users on Wednesday. The company recognized that its effort to “clean up” its community by blocking sex-related material went a little too far, and according to Thursday’s
mea culpa post from Six Apart CEO Barak Berkowitz, it’s now reviewing every suspended journal individually to see if a true violation of site policy is evident in each case.
The company suspended (not deleted) the sites after fielding complaints from readers inside and outside the LJ community. Six Apart decided which sites to target based on the profiles set up for each community. Profiles listing interests like “rape” or “incest” or “child rape” were suspended, and any reasonable person browsing those profiles would see why such action was taken. However, some of those suspended sites are legit blogs created by users who discuss those tough topics.
Indeed, some LiveJournal users write fictional accounts of rape and incest in order to publicly work through their own personal experiences with those scenarios. The sci-fi fan fiction community also has a long history of writing stories involving sex fantasies between characters. The idea of Jean-Luc Picard and Dr. Crusher getting it on may be titillating, but writing about Harry Potter having sex with one of his underage schoolmates could send up some red flags.
According to Berkowitz, the company had to decide where to draw the line: “While there are stories, essays, and discussions that include discussion of these issues in an effort to understand and prevent them, others use a pretext to promote these activities. It???s often very hard to tell the difference.”
Six Apart is reviewing all of the suspensions right now. Users can expect the process to be finished by Thursday afternoon.