Feeds

LiveJournal says sorry for blanket sex-talk censorship

'Well, we really screwed this one up...'

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

LiveJournal has apologised after taking down 500 discussion groups it felt were too sexed up. The purge was intended to wipe out discussion of paedophilia, rape, and sexual violence, the firm says.

Ironically, journals run by people who work to support victims of sexual abuse also got caught in the cleansing. Barak Berkowitz, chairman and chief executive of Six Apart, the company that owns LiveJournal, explained that this is because interests listed in profiles are automatically interpreted as "I'm in favour of x" or "I support x".

Journals containing literary criticism, fan fiction, and role-playing characters were also caught up in the clear-out.

The move triggered a huge backlash from users, with complaints flooding in to parent company Six Apart. Berkowitz moved quickly to issue a statement saying: "Well, we really screwed this one up..."

"For reasons we are still trying to figure out what was supposed to be a well planned attempt to clean up a few journals that were violating LiveJournal's policies that protect minors turned into a total mess. I can only say I'm sorry, explain what we did wrong and what we are doing to correct these problems and explain what we were trying to do but messed up so completely."

The company now says it has reinstated all fandom journals, all fiction journals, and all the journals that only had a problem flagged in their profile.

"A large number of journals that are clear violations of our policies will remain suspended," Berkowitz said.

Some users commenting on Berkowitz's post have appreciated the swift and open response, but others still feel betrayed by the host's actions.

Altoidsaddict writes:

"I'm more resentful that this happened:

a) lumping rape survivors in with perpetrators and b) at the behest of one of the worst "save the children" groups out there, and not when Perverted Justice offered to help a long time ago, and c) because it affected the bottom line, not because it was the right thing to do.

The suspensions can be fixed, but these intangibles can't with a mere flip of a switch.

Meanwhile, Spell writes:

There has been NO irreparable damage done here, people are blowing it WAY out of proportion and creating way more drama than there needs to be. And now it's those people who are looking like the assholes here, because at least LJ has the good grace to admit their mistake and try to clear it up.

Part of the reason for the sheer ferocity of the backlash must lie in the source of the complaint that prompted the suspension of so many journals.

One of the groups that complained to LiveJournal is a group called Warriors for Innocence. A representative of that group, referred to only as "Sues", told CNet's news service that the complaint did not "knowingly" include fandom or role playing journals. She also says on her own blog that she did not intend that survivor and support groups be deleted: "[LiveJournal's] decided who to delete," she concludes.

Berkowitz says that although the complaint may have come from WfI, it was LiveJournal's own standards used to determine which sites would be suspended: "The source of this complaint was not the source of the problem we created."

As of Thursday, journals had started to reappear. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
UK.gov pushes for SWIFT ACTION against nuisance calls, threatens £500k fines
DCMS seeks lowering of legal threshold to fight rogue firms
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
ISPs handbagged: BLOCK knock-off sites, rules beak
Historic trademark victory, but sunset clause applies to future blocks
Hungary's internet tax cannot be allowed to set a precedent, says EC
More protests planned against giga-tariff for Tuesday evening
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
How to simplify SSL certificate management
Simple steps to take control of SSL certificates across the enterprise, and recommendations centralizing certificate management throughout their lifecycle.