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Response from Six Apart

As you are aware, on Friday we sent out a request to a member of this community asking her to remove her default user picture because it was found to be in violation of our standard restrictions for default userpics after being reported by a fellow LJ user.

Enforcing these restrictions is not a fun or enjoyable part of the LJ Abuse staff’s job, but it is important to maintain consistency throughout our service so that everyone (kids, adults, and parents) can know what to expect when they use LJ. We do our best to have as few restrictions as possible. With any restriction we attempt to make sure that we have a clear, objective test.

To use an analogy, this is like a police officer having to enforce speed limits in neighborhoods where kids play. When enforcing these policies, sometimes you end up catching someone who is in fact a very law abiding citizen, but who just happened to be driving over the speed limit.

That being said, we’d like to sincerely apologize for the following:

  • The lack of sensitivity our procedures appeared to show toward the right for women to breastfeed their children.
  • The confusion and perception that LiveJournal and/or Six Apart is against mothers who choose to breastfeed their children.
  • The impression that we simply were not willing to listen, when in fact we are.
  • The lack of clarity on the policies, which was possibly made worse when we updated our FAQ on Saturday. We updated the FAQ to clarify our policy, not to change it in response to this specific situation.

Simply stated:

  • LiveJournal is in no way against breastfeeding or breastfeeding mothers. We salute your dedication to raising happy, healthy children.
  • In the process of enforcing our policy, we are not saying in any way that userpics showing breastfeeding are wrong or inappropriate.
  • We appreciate your voices and your use of our service.

At present, we have agreed to review both our policies and our enforcement procedures to ensure that we are acting both consistently and fairly.  Along with this, we want to add appropriate detail to our online FAQ so that it accurately reflects our policy.  I look forward to involving xavi7734 in this process.

By way of background, our Abuse team revisits these policies regularly to make sure they're the right solution for our users and for the company, and we'll be looking for ways that we can better address grey areas (like userpics supporting breastfeeding). We've always believed firmly in free expression, and we think that our policy of being strict about what's allowed in default user icons but lenient about what's allowed in non-default icons is a good balance between two very different points of view. We'll be working in the upcoming weeks and months to make absolutely certain that we have the right policy and the right way to handle issues.

Finally, we very much appreciate your support of LJ and the value that your community and those like yours bring. As I have conveyed toxavi7734, it’s because of users like yourselves that LJ exists, and we want to continue to run a service that enables you to create community, connect with others, and express yourselves in a free, safe, and positive manner.

I look forward to reading your feedback to this post as a temporary member of the community. 

Thanks

Father of 4 breast fed children,
Doug Bryan
VP of Business Operations, Six Apart

Comments

tamago23
May. 25th, 2006 12:19 am (UTC)
First, let me say that was a lovely apology... for you. It did an excellent job of making it appear that the problem was our perceptions, not the actual behavior of the LJ Abuse Team and Denise P.

There is a difference between "appeared to show" and "showed". The former makes it the fault of the person complaining - we weren't really at fault, you just perceived it that way! The latter admits wrongdoing on the part of the entity being complained against. Is there really any way you can review the letters sent by LJ Abuse and then honestly say that it was just our perception that they were insulting and hostile?

Second, while I appreciate what you're trying to do and I do think you honestly feel you're being supportive, I'm baffled by your reference to a grey area. There is no grey area. In all parts of the United States, breastfeeding is exempted from indecency laws for the simple reason that it isn't indecent. There's no wiggle room here - it isn't indecent. There's nothing to discuss; this is a standard that's been legally proven and successfully defended over and over and over. It isn't indecent. There should be no more controversy over a default icon of a baby nursing than there is over a default icon of any non-sexual, non-violent picture.

Third, saying that breastfeeding icons are permissible as non-default icons continues to promote the idea that there's something that makes them unacceptable as default icons. (See paragraph above.) Non-default icons are good compromises for violent and/or sexual icons. Non-default icon status is not a good compromise for this issue.

Fourth, if you and Six Apart truly believe that breastfeeding is not "wrong or inappropriate", then this whole argument is moot; breastfeeding icons are obviously completely acceptable for non-default icons, period, because there's nothing wrong or inappropriate about them. The actions of Six Apart (who "continue to review" the situation rather than simply acknowledging the fact that breastfeeding is exempt from nudity clauses in the TOS) do not back up your words.

Fifth, saying that no areola can be showing is not an acceptable compromise either, as that excludes a lot of women who have large areola. As dark-skinned women tend to have large areola much more often than Caucasians, are you really going to tell someone, based on their race and/or body type, that *their* nursing icon is inappropriate, whereas the nursing icon of a woman with smaller areola is acceptable?

Don't get me wrong, I am grateful that we're being acknowledged by Six Apart. I'm just currently not getting the sense that we're being *listened* to.
theprophecygirl
May. 25th, 2006 12:25 am (UTC)
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
pipu
May. 25th, 2006 12:29 am (UTC)
Very well said, I agree completely.
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iworshipsatin
May. 25th, 2006 02:52 am (UTC)
Stop pretending to be straight!
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disparate_ether
May. 25th, 2006 12:53 am (UTC)
Fourth, if you and Six Apart truly believe that breastfeeding is not "wrong or inappropriate", then this whole argument is moot; breastfeeding icons are obviously completely acceptable for non-default icons, period, because there's nothing wrong or inappropriate about them

they said breastfeeding was not wrong. They didn't say pictures of breastfeeding were not wrong.

a 16 and 17 year old can have sex legally in most states, however if either one of them video tapes that act it becomes child pornography.

Even if the tape isn't distributed and kept for their own personal viewing.

Breastfeeding laws exist to protect the infants, not to give people license to show off their breasts whenever they feel like it.

A picture of breastfeeding doesn't feed a child. Its simply a picture of a breast. Whether your have an infant covering the nipple or a finger, it doesn't matter. The breast is still there and that is the problem.

breastfeeding laws don't protect your right to bare breasts on a privately owned and operated site.
prime_radiant
May. 25th, 2006 01:13 am (UTC)
Privately owned and operated sites, if open to the public, may actually have to follow federal law. This has been the case in New Jersey with malls and protestors. I can cite relevant case law if needed. So, the fact that this is privately owned and operated has nothing to do with this.

Comparing sexual acts to breastfeeding is moot. Videotaping sex acts, even legal ones, creates pornography, which is subject to indecency laws. Having sex in public is also illegal.

Breastfeeding is not covered by indecency laws. Breastfeeding pictures are not covered by indecency laws. Breastfeeding in public is not covered by indecency laws.
disparate_ether
May. 25th, 2006 01:23 am (UTC)
Its not moot, its exact nature of the problem here.

Privately owned and operated sites, if open to the public, may actually have to follow federal law. may have to, but are not required to follow all laws. For example they're not required to follow free speech because they're a private entity. Private forums can ban or remove anyone they choose for anything they say and censor as they see fit.

Comparing sexual acts to breastfeeding is moot. Videotaping sex acts, even legal ones, creates pornography, which is subject to indecency laws. Having sex in public is also illegal.
who said anything about having sex in public? My example didn't involve the public. Two adults can take nude photographs of themselves engaged in sex acts in most states completely legally. Two teenagers who can legally have sex, can't do that, regardless of the state. Even though Person A is legally allowed to see person B naked, they're not allowed to record it just like adults can. This is an example of how something legal can become illegal.

Breastfeeding pictures are not covered by indecency laws
I'm sure you'll have no problem citing the applicable law for this.

As I've stated. Breastfeeding laws exist to make sure children are fed without hindrance. They're not created to give women the ability to show off their breasts wherever they want.


prime_radiant
May. 25th, 2006 01:42 am (UTC)
Wrong, actually. The court in New Jersey ruled that a privately owned mall HAD to follow federal law in terms of free speech, because free speech is a highly protected right, whereas property is not. The reason I say "may" and not "have to" is because it depends on the state. However, more and more courts have been ruling in favor of free speech over private property, so it is a very likely possibility. I highly doubt anyone is going to take LJ to court, but you might as well not use the argument that it is a private company that can do what it wants, because that's not the case.

Women showing off breasts has nothing to do with breastfeeding, nice try, though.

Your "analogy" is not an analogy at all. 2 adults taking pictures, legally, of themselves, are still creating pornography, which is specifically listed in indecency laws. Pornography is COVERED by indecency laws. If those 2 adults try to sell their pictures to a minor, they are doing something illegal. Any legal act can become illegal -- that is obvious.

Breastfeeding pictures are not illegal. You can sell breastfeeding pictures to minors -- you don't need case law to know this. There are pictures of breastfeeding and omg areolas in parenting magazines, which are not restricted to those who are above 18. Therefore, breastfeeding pictures are not covered by indecency laws.
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tamago23
May. 25th, 2006 01:25 am (UTC)
A picture of breastfeeding doesn't feed a child. Its simply a picture of a breast.

Don't be wilfully obtuse. It's a picture of breastfeeding an infant. If you choose to see breasts solely as sexualized objects, then that's your issue. And if you honestly see no difference between a child nursing and a finger, I don't think there's any way we can see eye-to-eye on this.

prime_radiant already demolished your breastfeeding pictures/porn analogy, so I don't need to address that. Suffice it to say: videotaping or taking a picture of breastfeeding still doesn't make it porn in any U.S. state, so your analogy is worthless.
disparate_ether
May. 25th, 2006 01:30 am (UTC)
How did she demolish anything? I didn't see anything demolished. What I saw was them make up something random about sex in public (which I never raised).

I don't choose to see a breast a sexualized object, however that is why LJ is taking the stance it is. Because western society as a rule sees it that way.


videotaping or taking a picture of breastfeeding still doesn't make it porn in any U.S. state, so your analogy is worthless.
Where did I say that made it porn? Do you even understand how an analogy works. My analogy was explaining how taking a picture of something changes it from being legal to illegal. I never said it was porn, I said it was nudity.


tamago23
May. 25th, 2006 01:32 am (UTC)
Because western society as a rule sees it that way.

If Western society as a rule saw it that way, then breastfeeding wouldn't be exempted from indecency laws.

My analogy was explaining how taking a picture of something changes it from being legal to illegal.

Your analogy doesn't work because it's comparing something that is sometimes illegal (porn) to something that is NEVER illegal (breastfeeding). Sex may be legal; videotaping/taking pictures may make it illegal. Breastfeeding is always legal; taking pictures/videotaping breastfeeding is also always legal. Do you see how those two don't equate?
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prime_radiant
May. 25th, 2006 01:44 am (UTC)
Western society does not see breastfeeding as sexualized, unfortunately for you.
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the_leh
May. 25th, 2006 02:01 am (UTC)
"How did she demolish anything? I didn't see anything demolished"

Therein lies the rub, my dear. You just don't get it, and never will. People like you are WHY images of breastfeeding should be seen far and wide.
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stellarstarrise
May. 25th, 2006 03:21 am (UTC)
See, there you're wrong. A picture of a breastfeeding child CAN influence another woman to breastfeed, just as that same pornographic video could influence others to have sex with children/peers.

Breastfeeding laws might not protect us, but 1 - they should, and 2 - common sense should have tossed this entire debate out the window sometime four or five days ago.
witchbaby33
May. 25th, 2006 01:48 am (UTC)
oh SNAP. you rule.
prime_radiant
May. 25th, 2006 01:48 am (UTC)
I don't breastfeed (yet) and I am not a part of this community, so I felt a little uncomfortable butting in and commenting in this post. I didn't want to intrude. However, since there are trolls here commenting as well, I figured that I can just comment to say that your comment was excellent.
tamago23
May. 25th, 2006 01:54 am (UTC)
Supporters are always welcome. :) (Trolls will be either poked with a stick or ignored, depending on mood.)
cdaae
May. 25th, 2006 01:55 am (UTC)
Word on that, too.
tamago23
May. 25th, 2006 01:55 am (UTC)
Oh, and while typing that response I did make one mistake that I should clarify:

Fourth, if you and Six Apart truly believe that breastfeeding is not "wrong or inappropriate", then this whole argument is moot; breastfeeding icons are obviously completely acceptable for non-default icons, period, because there's nothing wrong or inappropriate about them.

should be:

Fourth, if you and Six Apart truly believe that breastfeeding is not "wrong or inappropriate", then this whole argument is moot; breastfeeding icons are obviously completely acceptable for default icons, period, because there's nothing wrong or inappropriate about them.
the_leh
May. 25th, 2006 01:56 am (UTC)
EXACTLY. You said it so much better than I did.
raving_liberal
May. 25th, 2006 03:04 am (UTC)
Beautifully stated. Thank you so much.
becke1084
May. 25th, 2006 04:32 am (UTC)
I completely agree. Thank you so much for this comment!
yonmei
May. 25th, 2006 08:33 am (UTC)
Excellent comment.