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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

becke1084
May. 25th, 2006 05:19 am (UTC)
I agree with above posters that your apology was hollow and your analogy was totally inappropriate and insulting; breastfeeding is neither indecent nor illegal and IS NOT dangerous to children, as a speeding car in a neighborhood would be.

I don't think that changing the search feature to text-only results is the answer (although that should be an option if it's no already). I do think that a major overhaul of LJ Abuse is long overdue and should involve much more accountability. The Internet is 24/7 -- someone who is actually an employee of Six Apart needs to be "on call" on the weekends to handle these kinds of issues.

I think the TOS should revert to a ban on graphic sexual images, not nudity. I don't think that artistic nudity (including hardvice's icon that started this whole mess) should be banned from default icons. If the purpose of such a ban is ostensibly to protect children, then images containing obscene language, racial slurs, etc., should be banned far before artistic nudity.

However, if you wish to continue with the ban on nudity in default icons, there is no need to include special language exempting breastfeeding or male chests, as these are not considered "nudity" by our society (as exemplified by our Common Law). If some misguided person chooses to report such an icon, then LJ Abuse can review the icon to ensure that it is an allowed icon (based on criteria than can be disseminated to the LJA volunteers, as I assume is already the case for a variety of issues) and then respond with a form letter (since they love them so much) stating that under LJ's interpretain of nudity, the icon in question is allowed. The end. If LJA screws up, there needs to be a higher appeal option; this "we're right, you're wrong, the end, you're suspended" approach from LJA is totally inappropriate, especially for paying customers such as myself.

In the process of enforcing our policy, we are not saying in any way that userpics showing breastfeeding are wrong or inappropriate.

You've totally contradicted yourself by saying this. If this were true, there would be no issue here. None of these moms would be suspended/threatened with suspension. So what am I missing??

In close, I am a five-year member of the LJ community, and I have been a paid member for nearly 4 years. I am not yet a mother, and I have never breastfed a child, but I am very much an advocate. I applaud all of the women who have given their time and their voice to this issue, and I can only hope that LJ and Six Apart will do what is RIGHT and put this issue to bed before the end of the week.
the_leh
May. 25th, 2006 05:24 am (UTC)
That was a fantastic response and I agree with you 100%

You will make an excellent mother someday!
pamagain
May. 25th, 2006 05:26 am (UTC)
"If LJA screws up, there needs to be a higher appeal option; this "we're right, you're wrong, the end, you're suspended" approach from LJA is totally inappropriate, especially for paying customers such as myself."


I think this is a very good point.
jexia
May. 25th, 2006 06:01 am (UTC)
Excellent response.
jbarbie23
May. 25th, 2006 06:05 am (UTC)
In the process of enforcing our policy, we are not saying in any way that userpics showing breastfeeding are wrong or inappropriate.

No, in the process of HAVING that policy, you are saying it.
theprophecygirl
May. 25th, 2006 12:36 pm (UTC)
As a mother and paid livejournal user of over 5 years, who is facing suspension as of 12:01am tomorrow morning, I appreciate your response so much. It's wonderful seeing so much support from people who don't have children. Thank you.
bafleyanne
May. 25th, 2006 03:01 pm (UTC)
If the purpose of such a ban is ostensibly to protect children, then images containing obscene language, racial slurs, etc., should be banned far before artistic nudity.

I think this is an excellent point. My (formerly breastfed) nearly 5 year old sits on my lap with me occasionally to read LiveJournal. I have never felt the need to censor his viewing of a breast, whether employed in feeding a baby or not. I would prefer he not be able to sound out the word "f*ck" or "n*gger" on someone's icon, however, so on the cases when I come across those, I do take steps to ensure that he won't be reading.

Ultimately I think it is the responsibility of the *parents* to censor their childrens' viewing, on LJ or anywhere else. Keeping nudity, violence, or anything else out of default icons isn't going to help much when with just one click a child or anyone else can see a list of "all userpics" such as this one: http://www.livejournal.com/allpics.bml?user=nachtritter