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LiveJournal Says Users are Responsible for Content of Links

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the who's-to-blame dept.

The Internet 283

Many of you might remember the previous story about LiveJournal erroneously deleting hundreds of users as suspected paedophiles, spurred on by pressure from the group, Warriors for innocence. Since then, they've been taking action against users hosting material on their servers that they believe to be illegal. Today, LiveJournal management have demonstrated a serious lack of understanding in how the internet works, declaring that users are responsible for the content of the webpages that they link to in their blog entries. A user points out the obvious flaw: "I get ToS'd because the link's been redirected to a page full o' porn, even though context clearly shows that when I originally put up the link that it didn't actually land on a page of porn?" One wonders how such a long-established blogging company can be so ignorant about the nature of the world wide web.

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283 comments

No right to protection from stupidity (4, Informative)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407329)

This is not about "your rights online". LiveJournal is a private company, not a govenrment agency. Their web site is private property, and it is not a monopoly.
To speak of 'rights' on their web site is sort of speaking about rights at K-Mart. You don't have any. If you don't like what K-Mart does, you leave and go to their competitor.
If LiveJournal does something that you find intolerably stupid, then quit and go post on their competition's web site.

None of which... (5, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407365)

changes the fact that they're acting like clueless noobs.

Re:None of which... (4, Funny)

martinX (672498) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407399)

You misspelled a word. It's spelled "knobs".

Re:None of which... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20407537)

LMAO reading your sig.

Re:None of which... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20407497)

These Warriors for Innocence are a bunch of bible-thumping altar-violated nazi feminist who have no idea how the internet works, and for them to have put that much pressure on LiveJournal for them to turn into them, is a freaking joke. LiveJournal will soon collapse, and they will most likely look back at how they listened to a bunch of nobodies who think they know how to protect little children.

I went on their site, and found that their site alone was not work safe. Hypocritical bastards.

Re:None of which... (4, Insightful)

adona1 (1078711) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407713)

I also seem to recall that when LJ did their first lot of journal-cuts and it was posted on /. that many people pointed out (with glee) that the Warriors for Innocence webpage attempts to install spyware and other dirty tricks. Why should anyone, LJ included, pay attention to what they have to say? That's like accepting the help of a rapist to catch drug dealers...the intention may be good, but you get dirty doing it.

Re:None of which... (4, Interesting)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407747)

Someone who's overly friendly and goes out of his way to be helpful without asking for anything in return is suspicious.
I don't know where this author is from, but I was raised with the expectation that this is normal behavior.

Re:None of which... (1, Flamebait)

Thexare Blademoon (1010891) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408047)

Was your hometown smaller than 300 people by any chance?

Re:None of which... (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408837)

I live in a city of 3.6 million and that's considered polite and normal behaviour.

Is the where you live that far down the toilet that the normal standards of society don't apply?

Re:None of which... (4, Interesting)

Skreems (598317) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407781)

Just for the sake of irony, I submitted a "terms of service violation" complaint against the Warriors of Innocence blog. I recommend anyone else who's pissed at this behavior do the same. They're hate-mongering enough that there's a chance it'll do something. And damn, would it be funny.

Re:None of which... (2, Interesting)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408257)

Jesus H. Christ, you're right. That site isn't even safe for the Internet... haven't they ever heard of, oh, I don't know... LINKS? Seriously... all content in one place. Buncha right-wing, witch-hunting, self-important, ignorant morons. You'd think that someone at LiveJournal would go to their site and say "Huh... what a group of nutters" and then proceed to block their emails/phone calls.

Re:None of which... (2)

Stormie (708) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408433)

LiveJournal will soon collapse..

LiveJournal is already dead man walking. A lot of my older friends have LJs, but I asked around my workplace (which is a company in an internet-related field) - most of the people here are younger than me, and not a single one of this MyFaceBookSpaceTube-generation had even heard of LiveJournal.

Re:None of which... (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408859)

I thought they were a banner ad company to be honest... and I'm 38 - you older than that?

Facebook is pretty much everywhere now, myspace is becoming a niche product used to pubilicise new bands. There's also another one waiting in the wings I forget the name (something silly like 'boing' but not that) ready to take over if facebook dies.

Re:No right to protection from stupidity (4, Insightful)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407385)

Here, here. For those who find it a problem, they are free to seek other services. Those won't have no problem with the new policy will stay. If the former group is larger than the latter and LiveJournal sees mass exodus, perhaps it will regret and renege.

Be that as it may... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20407437)

While it may not be government censorship, I don't see why we can't publicly decry these actions as idiotic.

After all, who will learn from their example if no one makes an example of them?

Re:Be that as it may... (0, Flamebait)

bi_boy (630968) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407849)

While it may not be government censorship, I don't see why we can't publicly decry these actions as idiotic.

It's because we're not talking about Microsoft.

Re:No right to protection from stupidity (1)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407457)

Yes it is. This is about livejournal caving in to a private and unaccountable group that has ruined the lives of innocent men and women for having expressed desire to have sex with teenagers. This is legal in some states out west with parental consent. First livejournal, then google, and someday the government. They don't believe in innocent until guilty. They don't believe in the distinction between fantasy and reality. According to some of the logic they employ, a 19-year old having sex with a 17 year old (consentually) is some kind of monster. They don't care about reason, and they are not interested in open debate. Regardless of our feelings about legal expressions of paedophilia, we can agree that no-one should hold debate on the internet hostage by shutting out one of the sides.

Re:No right to protection from stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20407459)

LJ are big, they can't read every account. They have to sift. Some people are unfortunately caught up in this process.

If they let the filth take over, the filth will ruin them.

People only obviously care about their own individual account though.

Re:No right to protection from stupidity (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408565)

If they let the filth take over, the filth will ruin them.

By filth you probably mean porn, right?

So someone might post some porn on Livejournal. If you don't like it, don't read it. How exactly is porn going to take over and force out nonpornographic uses of LJ?

Re:No right to protection from stupidity (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407509)

The assignment of a category to the story is Slashdot's problem -- none of the posters here had any control over it. Also, among all the news categories on Slashdot, which one would have been more appropriate? I agree that you don't really have "rights" when it comes to your interactions with private companies or individuals, but really -- what would YOU suggest?

Re:No right to protection from stupidity (1)

UserGoogol (623581) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407579)

Many would argue that you have a right to do whatever the hell you want as long as it doesn't harm anyone else. When people's websites are shut down by Livejournal, their ability do "whatever the hell they want" is limited, and it's quite debatable whether said people were harming anyone. Of course, it's debatable which side the rights really fall on, but that's true of any discussion. For every so-called right, it is not hard to find some person who thinks that isn't a right. Especially since Slashdot is a discussion website, they should use an open-ended definition of rights so that they can stir up as much discussion as possible.

Re:No right to protection from stupidity (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20407603)

This is just a bizarre, backwards argument.

Of course they are "rights."

You say we "don't have any" rights when at K-Mart? This is false on its face, and anyone can see it. If you walk into K-Mart they have no right to bind and gag you, nor to handcuff you and throw darts at you for entertainment, nor to forcefully take a blood sample.

Sure, they can legally ask you to leave when you enter wearing a t-shirt which they dislike -- but that doesn't make them ethically correct in doing so.

Your redefinition of "rights" to include only major human/civil rights, encoded in law as actions the government may not take against individuals, is mere wordplay -- whose effect is to semantically limit those rights you'll permit people to demand for themselves. When we demand certain rights, it does not matter whether the entity infringing upon those rights is the government or not. They are rights by dint of their infringement being unethical.

Re:No right to protection from stupidity (4, Insightful)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407661)

LJ is run like a company, but bills itself as a community. People who are members of communities tend to think of themselves as having rights, including a right to say what they think about the community's policies. If you disagree with changes in the Terms of Service, you really don't have much redress as you might with an entity that operated like a democracy.

This is unfortunate; online communities could well operate like governments, with a concept of citizenship and taxation, rather than as business enterprises, with a concept of customer accounts and fees, but very few of them seem to any more.

But it's very difficult to say "If you don't like the way things are run here, you can just leave." It's not easy to export a livejournal account to another service with more agreeable ToS. It's not easy to leave the friends and contacts behind when you move your blogging to another service.

If you don't like it... Leave... (0)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408941)

But it's very difficult to say "If you don't like the way things are run here, you can just leave."
But that's the nature of a marketplace. You don't like something, move on elsewhere.

It's not easy to export a livejournal account to another service with more agreeable ToS. It's not easy to leave the friends and contacts behind when you move your blogging to another service.
Well if your ethics are less important than the your apathy then what's the problem? Just stay where you are.

If it matters and you want out they don't exactly make it difficult for you:
http://www.livejournal.com/support/faqbrowse.bml?f aqid=8 [livejournal.com]

 

Re:No right to protection from stupidity (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407705)

If LiveJournal does something that you find intolerably stupid, then quit and go post on their competition's web site.
That doesn't make what they do right. Also, you can use the same argument in support of anything the government does- and many do. That doesn't make them right, why would it make you right?

Being legally acceptable doesn't make it morally acceptable or publicly acceptable, and we shouldn't treat it as if it does, lest we instill the idea that laws = morals and morals = laws.

Re:No right to protection from stupidity (4, Insightful)

quanticle (843097) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407827)

To speak of 'rights' on their web site is sort of speaking about rights at K-Mart. You don't have any.

That's not true, per se. One does have right at K-Mart. For example, K-Mart may not turn me away even if I'm a minority or if I'm in a wheelchair. There are anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws that grant me certain rights even if I'm inside private property.

Re:Love it or Leave it (1)

Domo-Sun (585730) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407971)

Fine. Let's say that K-mart decided that any person they deem to be gay looking will be forcefully ejected from their store. Yes, gay people can shop elsewhere, but they shouldn't have to. Moreover, simply shopping elsewhere isn't going to change anything, if we assume that gays make up 10% of the population.

Re:No right to protection from stupidity (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407985)

To speak of 'rights' on their web site is sort of speaking about rights at K-Mart. You don't have any.
You seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of how rights work. You do not check them all at the door. For instance, if K-Mart said, "no Irish," that's not their right, in fact, it's illegal. Is what LJ doing illegal? No. But that doesn't mean that it's not censorship, and not offensive.

It's good to know. (1)

CamoCoatJoe (972244) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408069)

I have a LiveJournal 'blog, and have posted links on it. I do not review the LJ ToS or the content of the sites I link to regularly. I'm glad that I was informed about this through /. .

Maybe it's time to fire up wget, unless someone here knows a better way to get a dump of all your LJ posts. I really should be keeping a backup of my 'blog anyway.

Re:No right to protection from stupidity (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408145)

This is not about "your rights online". LiveJournal is a private company, not a govenrment agency.


Yes, LJ and K-Mart are private companies. Congratulations on stating the obvious. Can you please point out where anyone claimed they were acting as agents of the government?

Back to the discussion, which is about whether or not it is appropriate, sensible or logical for LJ to implement this policy.

Re:No right to protection from stupidity (4, Insightful)

EconomyGuy (179008) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408487)

Parent is mistaken if they believe that we only have rights in relation to government agencies. That's simply not how the world functions. I have the right to not be struck by moving cars, which is enforced by my right to bring a suit in torts against anyone who does strike me by a moving car. There are all manner of rights which exist between private parties. Some have existed since the first common law courts on England, others are more modern such as civil rights laws passed by Congress in the 50s and 60s. In all cases it is a right a private actor enforces against another.

One such right is the right of LiveJournal to avoid any liability for defamatory material posted on their site by members. The law explicitly exempts LiveJournal (and other service providers) from the same liability a newspaper would carry if it printed the same materials. There is zero government involvement.

Another, perhaps more analogous, example is that a landlord cannot put in a lease that they can evict you without cause or without notice. Sure, it's the landlords private property, but the courts have long held that as it becomes your home you have certain rights which trump the private property holder. Again, no government involvement needed.

Which is all a way of saying that the "right" to not be deemed in violation of ToS because a link you pointed to has changed to something different is not a far-fetched right. It's just another layer of rights and regulations that form the web that is our legal framework.

Re:No right to protection from stupidity (1)

hauntingthunder (985246) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408857)

bolocks Live journal is opening up themsleves to lega attack if they start removing certain items you dont want to limit your comon carier status.

Re:No right to protection from stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20408991)

To speak of 'rights' on their web site is sort of speaking about rights at K-Mart. You don't have any.

With the greatest respect, bollocks!
You have the right not to be racially/sexually discriminated against, for example.
You have general rights not to be beaten or killed or whatever.

Surely what you mean is that you don't have any free-speech type rights (at wal-mart or on live journal) and more generally that they have the right to exclude you/discontinue your service for any reason (as long as it's not sex/race/age(?) related).

Very strange considering it's roots. (3, Interesting)

FauxReal (653820) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407349)

It was started by a geeky highschool kid... a classmate of a friend of mine who definitely understood how things worked. Of course it's changed hands since then. I would chalk this up to PHB syndrome.

Re:Very strange considering it's roots. (3, Informative)

monkeySauce (562927) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407529)

It's roots mean nothing now. LiveJournal is owned by Six Apart these days (makers of Movable Type blog engine). I've never been a LiveJournal blogger, but I've suffered more than enough frustration with MT and Six Apart. In my opinion the company is poorly run. I find this type of idiocy at LiveJournal unsurprising.

Big deal? (1)

SnoopJeDi (859765) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407379)

If it's really that important, bloggers can:

1) Plaintext the URLS; they're not linking to the site, they're simply providing a URL should somebody want to look into whatever they're jabbering on about (maybe this one wouldn't get around the ToS)

2) Use some kind of passthrough; something similar to tinyurl that monitors the site. Impractical, but so is LJ, really.

3) Get a new blog site; it's not like there aren't a billion floating around or anything.

Am I missing something?

Re:Big deal? (1)

Malekin (1079147) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408959)

1. LiveJournal automagically turns plaintext URLs into links.

2. That just changes the link URL, not the fact that LiveJournal still holds you accountable for the content linked to.

3. LiveJournal, more than many similar services, has its primary value not as a blogging service but as a social network. Without all your friends also moving, a new blogging service is a significantly different experience.

Re:Big deal? (2, Insightful)

Ablakmaniac (1144261) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408961)

3) Get a new blog site; it's not like there aren't a billion floating around or anything.

Am I missing something?
Yes, although you may not agree to its importance (but you'd be at odds with the people who actually use LJ and are at the heart of this issue). It's not as simple as switching from coke to pepsi; people who use LJ for extended periods of time often develop substantial roots, real-life as well as online, with peers on the site (as well as having a lot of legacy content that's difficult to copy over to a new blog, intact). Although the metaphor is too melodramatic for my taste, it's a little closer to a minor organ transplant than to changing the brand of watch you wear.

I'm sure somebody else could look at the way the site is structured, its topology, interface and content, and explain precisely why people become more deeply involved in social networks there, than is typical for random web sites; I don't know the language for precisely describing it. But from my experience, the relationships tend to be stronger, deeper and more socially layered/complex than on typical web forums (I don't have experience with other social blogging sites like facebook or myspace, but I'd assume something similar goes on with them).

It's not just a thousand forgettable aliases, blurring into each other, spitting out fire-and-forget one-liners on a news story; it's often people posting in depth about life experiences, sometimes very sensitive ones, and interacting with a small peer group. I know this isn't all the site is used for, but it's a substantial part of it, and it's those people I sympathize with in this case, when they're being forced to uproot themselves and move elsewhere, starting over in some other community.

I haven't used it in a couple of years--other priorities took over--but I still remember some of the people there in the kind of depth normally reserved for real-life friends. (And that's not counting the ones who I went on to meet in real life, and still know.) They may not have a legal right to defend their presence, or their communities on the site; although I'd put real money on this changing over the next decade or two, so that web community participants do have some kind of legal voice; Sixapart owns the software and bandwidth, NOT the people and communities which are responsible for the company's success, and that distinction isn't yet legally recognized.

But in spite of the absence of legal leverage, they have good reason to be upset about having the rug pulled out from under them, and certainly have a right to complain and try to fight it. Transplanting an entire community to another site/medium does happen, but it's difficult to hold a group together through that process, and doesn't usually happen without a lot of real-life ties to support it. People find it difficult to agree on the timing--what's the last straw that makes them all give up on a site, at once, rather than breaking off piecemeal and going in different directions--and it's hard to get people to agree on where they're going to go instead. You're better off trying to get the site to reverse its policy changes, if there's any hope of that happening.

hah! (3, Insightful)

thej1nx (763573) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407407)

So you would rather that *they* take reponsibility and get shutdown for, any illegal stuff *you* put in your blog?

I bet!

You know, if your landlord declared tomorrow that he is not responsible for any drug trafficking you do from your rented apartment, and you yourself are responsible for your actions, it would hardly be seen as unfair(especially if there are 1000 other tenants in the high-rise, thus making it impossible to check up on all of them individually).

Why is it anyways with America's obsession with sex on the net, while in real life, solicitations of all and any such activities run unhindered and unnoticed? A pedophile can much more easily target the kids of people he knows. Such has always been the case since they already have the advantage of being trusted. It is not like pedophiles were not there without the net.

How hard is it to pull out the cable of your PC and hide it in a lock, when you are not using it? There are computer cases that can be locked you know... if you really think it is that big a threat. If you think internet is a threat then don't allow kids to use it unsupervised. Ask your local libraries and schools to ensure that unsupervised access to public computers is not given to minors. Are you that retarded or lazy to not see the simple solution? Or you are one those guys who couldn't be bothered to give time and attention to your own kids? In that case, you shouldn't be having kids in the first place!

Think of the children indeed! It would be much much better for the children if they just considered merely "thinking" in the first place! Sheesh!

Re:hah! (2, Insightful)

thej1nx (763573) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407539)

To be fair LJ should possibly provide a tool for the users to verify the links. But yeah, links do not change that frequently all of a sudden for a porn site. And plus LJ is not a democracy. They are simply reserving the right to terminate the accounts that are more trouble than they are worth. if you are a paying customer, they would probably just warn you off first. If there is too much mass-exodus, they would possibly investigate individual cases more cautiously...


But frankly, this is all the fault of Yahoo for giving in. They had user-created chatrooms, which got closed thanks to "think of the children" brigade. It hardly solved any problems. Not like the pedophiles were caught or arrested. Those sickoes were just forced to move elsewhere, making it a cat and mouse game... leaving them still free to prey on kids elsewhere.

But you can bet that after that case, no other company wants to take any risks. It is better to lose a few customers than to be shutdown. I mean especially when such "think of the children" idiots seem too lazy to mind their kids properly on their own. You allowed your representatives to do things based on fear-mongering and now it comes to bite you in the ass indirectly.

For all the "think of the children" nonsense(mind your kids dammit! ask your legislators to put more copson catching those sickoes! ), a quick look at the list of ages of consent in most of the US states is quite illuminating and shocking. Hypocrisy at its finest!

Re:hah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20407841)

But yeah, links do not change that frequently all of a sudden for a porn site.

Yes they do. If a linked-to site's domain name expires, it's quite common for a porn site to buy it to take advantage of the page-rank. It's more often the case that stupid made-for-adsense search-style sites get domains, but even they have NSFW ads sometimes.

Re:hah! (1)

WNight (23683) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407885)

They are simply reserving the right to terminate the accounts that are more trouble than they are worth. if you are a paying customer [...]

That's just the problem, this is to paying customers. They don't have a right to terminate these accounts at all, considering their ToS changed after these users paid.

If these were just free accounts it would be expected.

Re:hah! (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408211)

I can understand people's frustration with feeling like their freedom to express themselves is at risk, even if only from a company rather than the government, so I won't criticize the people who are upset about Live Journal's policy change. By the same token, if they are paying customers, why not say "forget that", get a $5/month hosting plan, install wordpress with a couple button clicks in Fantastico, and call it good. Then they can say whatever the hell they want (till they run into host trouble and have to go offshore).

Re:hah! (1)

Malekin (1079147) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408995)

I recall reading when this issue first came up that the US has a law that protects website hosts from liability resulting from user-posted content. (Section 509 of the Communications Decency Act as codified at 47 U.S.C. Section 230.)

Six Apart is enforcing these rules not out of a desire to be shutdown, but as a choice to impose their sense of morality on their users.

Umm... (4, Insightful)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407413)

Ok, so I understand quite well how things can change and how domains can switch hands and a link one day might be about my little pony but the next day it could get redirected to porn etc.

However, isn't it perfectly within LJ's right to protect itself and remove accounts who are linking to porn ? Is it not *your* responsibility to make sure that sites that you link to aren't something that "parent company" wouldn't object to ? Where parent company is a web host, employer or anyone else who *owns* the property (web server, domain etc.) that you are hosting your page on ?

So the owner of the link changed the page. That means Live Journal should just sit back and say "oh well... our domain is linking to porn and our policy clearly states that we do not allow that, however, since the link was obviously changed to redirect to porn *after* the page owner linked to it we'll just leave it there and do nothing" ?

Ok, so they could pull the link and inform / warn the user etc. But then the question is raised, who's responsibility is it to check those links ? IMO the guy who signed up for a Live Journal account and linked to the site that eventually got changed and redirected should be held responsible.

Maybe I'm a little biased because I'm a webmaster. But I make it a point to check the links on my sites periodically because they change. I don't expect my web hosting provider to do it for me. Not that my hosting provider would terminate my account for anything short of something extremely illegal anyway. But for my own reputation and for the sake of giving my surfers a pleasant and consistent surfing experience free of anything that they would not expect or want to come across while browsing my sites I check my links every once in a while.

And it is certainly within LJ's rights to remove pages on their servers that are violating their TOS. I don't see how it has anything to do with understanding the nature of the Internet. I haven't read their TOS but I'm assuming somewhere in there is "Don't Link To Porn Sites" and I'm also pretty sure that there is NOT an "Except unless the page you're linking to was changed afterwards" clause.

Re:Umm... (3, Informative)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407483)

As much as it pains me to help the wankers, I should point out that there's no "No Porn" rule. The problems have been with child porn. Specifically, if you draw a picture of 16-year-old Harry Potter performing unseemly acts with 35-year-old Severus Snape, is that child porn? LJ has been somewhat inconsistent with its definitions, so now people are worried they will carry those inconsistent definitions over to this, making it hard to tell what links are OK. Personally, I think we can all just give up our Snarry porn and live happily ever after, but apparently there are MANY PEOPLE (a few dozen) to whom this is a VITAL FORM OF EXPRESSION.

Oh and.... (4, Informative)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407515)

The other issue is that they have been yanking paid (in some cases lifetime) accounts with no warning to the owner at all and no refunds. This is what got people really pissed. At least they're starting to realize that they should give people a chance to take it down before deleting the account.

Re:Oh and.... (1)

kokoba (863301) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407553)

Didn't you know? The entire Internet userbase consists of Harry Potter fanficcers and artists. Old IRC adages about men, women, children and FBI agents no longer apply.

Re:Umm... (2, Informative)

wizbit (122290) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408743)

I'm guessing you missed the short-lived moratorium on userpics (avatars) with images of breastfeeding. LiveJournal's idea of "porn" isn't limited to the hardcore, illegal stuff.

Re:Umm... (2, Insightful)

bhalter80 (916317) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407625)

There are 2 things at work here 1) is the case where I post something and it gets changed relatively soon in that case I can see that perhaps the user who posted the LJ entry should be responsible but there is the other case 2) where 2 years from now www.coolsite.com becomes pr0n pr0n pr0n at this point should I still be responsible for checking that my links point to the content I originally intended? Maybe LJ needs to deactivate links in posts over a certain number of days and print them as text instead of links. Personally I think the whole concept of writing a diary for the world to see is rather foolish but I'm not one of those trendy teeniboppers.

We must all be responsible... (1)

swalker42 (944794) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407417)

when we decide to hook one of the internet tubes to our website.
If we can't control the tubes, what has this world come to?

Bad summary and random story! (3, Interesting)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407425)

Great, now I get to read LJ pedo wank on /. too. Is there no escape?

The blog post in question states:

If there's any good news, current policy dictates that if LJAbuse is able to determine based on the content around your link that you initially posted to a "safe" site and that link has now been redirected, you will be contacted and asked to fix the link. They will most likely not use it as a "strike" against you in their shiny new "two strikes yer out policy" if LJAbuse decides that you didn't intend to link to a site LJ/6A thinks contains ToS-able content.

Which contradicts the comment quoted in the summary.

Of course, as sick as I am of the "LET ME TELL YOU INTERNETS IT IS HARD TO BE AN OPPRESSED HARRY POTTER FANFICCER", I do hope that LJ isn't really going to start kicking people out for old links.

I used to have a Barbie site that got a fair bit of traffic, and of course (this being the late 90s when a links page was a requisite for any site), I had a page of links to my other favorite Barbie sites. I once got a letter in the snail mail from a lady telling me what a horrible person I am for luring children in with Barbie stuff and then showing them porn. Sure enough, one of the doll domains had been bought out as a "doll" domain, and this lady for some reason thought that I had actually gone through the trouble of creating a site with all this info on doll collecting (and I'm sure 7-year-olds find listings of flaws discovered upon deboxing a doll fascinating) just to lure kids into a porn site. Oh, and that was the day I learned not to put my home address on my online resume.

Re:Bad summary and random story! (1)

EricJay (945580) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408075)

IAWTC.

If you read the text of the exchange liz_marcs had with LJ Abuse, you'll see this:

The LiveJournal Abuse Prevention team only investigates material which has been reported to us. Should a link be reported in a case where it is clear from the context that any violation of the Terms of Service is entirely unintentional and caused by a change in the page content after the time the link was made, the action LiveJournal would take would be to ask the user to remove the link; it would not count as a "strike" under the "two strike" rule.

Am I the only one who finds this to be TOTALLY reasonable? The summary, and many of the comments here, seem to be all up in arms about how if a page changes, someone is going to have their LiveJournal deleted... when the words quoted above make it pretty clear that unless a user mentions the illegal content in the context of the link, they're just going to let you know that the content changed, and ask you to remove the link!

Re:Bad summary and random story! (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408305)

nope. sounds perfectly sensible to me also, speaking as a livejournal user myself.

though it remains to be seen if they will actually follow what their policy says.

Could be symptomatic of a deeper problem ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407447)

One wonders how such a long-established blogging company can be so ignorant about the nature of the world wide web.

Perhaps they are in need of some of those Alzheimer's implants referred to in another recent story.

mmmmK (1)

Televiper2000 (1145415) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407451)

There's absolutely nothing unfair about this policy. LiveJournal is holding their members accountable for the content of their journals and they're simply extending it what is on the other side of the hyper link. There's correspondence from the people who run LiveJournal in the article that specifically states that the user will first be asked to remove the offending link. It's an EVERYDAY thing on the internet to use journals and blogs and a front door for distributing illicit material that's stored in other locations on the internet. Honestly, if YOU are that much smarter about how the internet works, get your webserver.

Slideshow (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20407461)


I was just watching a slideshow [tinyurl.com] about this matter. I recommend you watch it too, very interesting stuff indeed.

Re:Slideshow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20407495)

Slideshow title: Slashdot Memories by Goatse

Write a link-checker widget (0)

jihadist (1088389) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407481)

They love widgets at LiveJournal, or is that FaceBook? Or MyFace or whatever it's called.

Anyway, write a widget. It stores the URL and two unique phrases, visible only to the owner of the widget, it must find on that page. Every night at midnight, it scans your links and if it doesn't find those phrases, temporarily yanks the link and drops you an IM.

Or is LiveJournal too primitive for this? If so, maybe they need to fix that. The future is the widget, man.

Re:Write a link-checker widget (1)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407559)

Seems like a good idea, but how best to prevent this from becoming a DDoS vector?

Re:Write a link-checker widget (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20407717)

You have a database of links/phrases. You grab each link once and only once, no matter how often that link is referenced by your users. You look at a user's link, grab your local, cached copy of said link, and regexp for the phrases.

I guess people are lazy though, and would probably just try to retrieve a page each and every time there was a link to it. :P

Re:Write a link-checker widget (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407871)

You have a database of links/phrases.

Heh. That's how it starts.

We just wanted a widget to check links. A wee little WIDGET!!

Then it turned out it needed an enterprise level database engine behind it for efficiency and security. (Just the sort of feature creep IT departments love most.)

I suppose the next step is that once this massive database is checking links... well it only makes sense to harvest the data for advertising trends, pagerank, and so forth and try to make some money off it...

Upkeep (0, Flamebait)

Joebert (946227) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407567)

What do you mean I'm responsible for the baby dieing in the tub, she was alive when I put her in there.

Re:Upkeep (2)

Ablakmaniac (1144261) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408759)

What do you mean I'm responsible for the baby dieing in the tub, she was alive when I put her in there.
I don't understand how that bizarre metaphor got modded up as insightful. (Note, it got modded back down to flamebait while I was writing this, thank heavens.)

If I'm understanding the situation (having not used livejournal in a couple of years now), a better (though still imperfect) metaphor would be the curator of a small library of up to several thousand books, not simply having to check the books when they're purchased, but also having to go through all the stacks regularly to make sure rogue publishers never sneak in and replace an existing book with a pornographic book of the same name and external appearance. Because even though it's uncommon, the library is going to be held responsible when it happens, and shut down if it happens twice.

I don't see how this is in any way a sensible practice. It would seem more reasonable for LJ to issue warnings--perhaps to automatically remove the link and send you an email explaining the situation--and not take punitive action unless there's evidence of a pattern to indicate that the violations are deliberate.

For that matter, would it be difficult for LJ to implement a list of sites you're not permitted to link to, and make it publicly available, as well as automatically checking newly submitted links against that list and giving a real-time warning?

BTW I mostly agree with the people who say "just leave for another blogging site"; that's probably what I'd do, since nearly any web community that approaches LJ's scale seems to turn to shit, following changes in policy that (nearly) always come with that kind of population.

I don't know if it's economics that makes it inevitable--that at that size, it becomes impractical to run it any other way and still survive financially; see for instance the way Fark had to adapt to satisfy their advertisers, to exist at their current scale--or just that you get so many bad apples that the policies have to be re-written to revolve around them.

But I sympathize with people who have built up extensive communities on LJ, with their own blog being part of an extended online family. People actually build deep connections that way, for better or for worse. They may not have a legal right to force LJ to accomodate them, but they have my complete support if they want to fight the changes to their online homeowner's association (so to speak), rather than nonchalantly accept the eviction and find another town.

LJ's own ToS shows their hypocrisy (1)

Grond (15515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407597)

LJ's own ToS [livejournal.com] contains a clause denying LJ's responsibility for external links:

The Service, or relevant third parties, may provide links to other web sites or resources. Because LiveJournal has no control over such sites and resources, you acknowledge and agree that LiveJournal is not responsible for the availability of such external sites or resources, and does not endorse and is not responsible or liable for any content, advertising, products, or other materials on or available from such sites or resources. You further acknowledge and agree that LiveJournal shall not be responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with use of or reliance on any such content, goods or services available on or through any such site or resource.


Why would they deny their users the same legal protection? Or maybe users should simply put a modified version of this clause on their blogs. That way, if LJ wants to deny that a user's ToS is valid, it would be shooting itself in the foot.

Re:LJ's own ToS shows their hypocrisy (1)

faedle (114018) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407997)

LiveJournal's staff has clearly stated that they believe LiveJournal's Terms of Service is not to be taken literally, and that it in no way shape or form dictates actual LJ policy [livejournal.com] . What document does state that is left as an exercise to the reader.

I see this in the future, and my thoughts (1)

dacarr (562277) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407621)

See, this is why, whenever I link to a site, I try and make sure that it's not going to be something nefarious. Granted, the occasional meme has turned up a pic of Goatse.

What I see happening is this: LJ, with their history, will provide a warning. If it was a meme and it got goatse'd, then yeah, the blogger is technically responsible, but I'm fairly sure they won't be ToS'd because of some fuckwit's prank that they apparently think is laughable. On the other hand, if the person is posting links to child porn and it's clearly intentional...well, as near as I can tell, this is what it's for.

I'll have to toss this by my attorney, see what s/he thinks of it.

Whine some more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20407719)

Holding users responsible for the content of hyperlinks they post is standard practice on just about every electronic bulletin board I can think of. Even 4chan does it. How should this be any different?

Goatse anyone? (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407727)

They could do like /. did with the whole goatse thing (back when that was all the rage) and show the domain name next to the link. This would leave it up to the users' discretion whether to click or not to click.

Re:Goatse anyone? (1)

flowsnake (1051494) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407877)

Although this would generally be a good thing to do, it doesn't help at all if the linked page changes. The URL remains the same, but the content has changed from that which was present at the time the blogger linked it.

What problem? (3, Insightful)

Mundocani (99058) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407753)

Honestly, I don't see it. How could you get ToS'd maliciously? They only said that you were responsible for sites you link directly to, not that you are responsible for every site they in turn link to. Being that it's only sites you link to yourself, I think this seems like a reasonable CYA policy. You should be responsible for sites you link to, you're the one sending your readers there. I doubt that means they'd (necessarily) throw you off the service (unless you'd linked to something really egregious, though I'm not sure what that'd even be). But if you direct people to a site that's illegal and the feds come knocking, why shouldn't you have to be the one to answer the door?

Re:What problem? (3, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407821)

You should be responsible for sites you link to, you're the one sending your readers there.

How can a person be responsible for a site they link to? The content of that site could change at any time. If I was held legally responsible for the content of every site I link to, I'd never link to ANYTHING. It could change at any moment -- what if it becomes child porn? To hold people responsible for the content of the sites they link to would fundamentally destroy the web. Nobody would link to anything.

Re:What problem? (1)

JeffSh (71237) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407935)

Your point is valid but irrelevant. The whole point of this post is about LJ deleting journals for violating TOS, specifically, linking to things that violate TOS like pedophiles and other things of that nature. LJ's actions have little or nothing to do with the aspect of direct linking you describe. I'm certain that those culled from LJ were found to be affirmitively in violation of TOS and not just accidently.

Re:What problem? (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408085)

Your point is valid but irrelevant.

Irrelevant to the story, perhaps. But I was responding to a user comment, which claimed that we should all be responsible for the content we link to. Clearly, that's not feasible, as it would destroy the web.

Re:What problem? (2, Insightful)

Mundocani (99058) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408143)

You can be responsible for the content you link to by being accountable to your government (yeah, I'm no fan either, but there they are) if you violate a law. If you point people to a site where they can hook up with other men who like diddling kiddies and providing a link like that is illegal in your country, then I think it's reasonable for LiveJournal to say that they'll close your account if they're required to under those circumstances and that they'll probably provide your identity to your government as well if they're required to.

Other than that I doubt they give a shit. They don't care if you link to some porn site -- why would they? They just want to cover their asses, they just want you to know that if you break a law like that they're not going to stand behind you.

Re:What problem? (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408281)

You can be responsible for the content you link to by being accountable to your government (yeah, I'm no fan either, but there they are) if you violate a law. If you point people to a site where they can hook up with other men who like diddling kiddies and providing a link like that is illegal in your country, then I think it's reasonable for LiveJournal to say that they'll close your account if they're required to under those circumstances and that they'll probably provide your identity to your government as well if they're required to.

But this misses the fundamental point -- the Internet can change at any time. What if I link to a site: http://www.cutebabies.com/ [cutebabies.com] which is full of pictures of newborns for new parents to gawk at. Suppose the registration on this domain expires, and it's replaced with a site full of child porn -- babies engaging in sex, or whatever. If I'm responsible for that, then... I'm not going to link to anything.

Re:What problem? (1)

Mundocani (99058) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408343)

Yeah, but the legal system isn't actually blind, they do actually look at context. If your link is surrounded by text that says stuff like "My wife and I just had our baby and we found the cutest site! Check it out at www.cutebabies.com. Be sure to check out page 3 where you can find pictures of our little Jessica-Amber -- it's under the Oh-no-she-didn't! category!", then I bet the judge, hell even the cops will probably think "WTF? Does this guy know what's on that site?" and LJ will simply ask you to remove the link and threaten you with suspension or cancellation if you don't. And, given the scenario you described, I bet you'd be more than happy to take down a link like that.

Re:What problem? (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408499)

Yeah, but the legal system isn't actually blind, they do actually look at context. If your link is surrounded by text that says stuff like "My wife and I just had our baby and we found the cutest site! Check it out at www.cutebabies.com. Be sure to check out page 3 where you can find pictures of our little Jessica-Amber -- it's under the Oh-no-she-didn't! category!", then I bet the judge, hell even the cops will probably think "WTF? Does this guy know what's on that site?" and LJ will simply ask you to remove the link and threaten you with suspension or cancellation if you don't. And, given the scenario you described, I bet you'd be more than happy to take down a link like that.

"Take down" a link that's been hard-archived on a million places on the web? Not even possible. How am I supposed to go erase the links from Google cache and any other site that archives web content? For that matter, what if LJ doesn't allow me to redact my posts? Why the hell should I be threatened with "suspension or cancellation" because some OTHER SITE on the Internet changes?

Re:What problem? (1)

Mundocani (99058) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408617)

Why do you have to erase caches? LiveJournal would just want the links off of their own site, which you can easily comply with. This issue isn't about you being responsible for your links existence in history, it's about you being responsible for the present.

Re:What problem? (1)

Mundocani (99058) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408647)

By the way, you must realize that if a cached copy somewhere could be used to implicate you, then a cached copy would also exonerate you as well since there would be copies of the original site that you actually linked to as well.

The way I got booted? (2, Interesting)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408183)

I made a steganography program once (hidden message) that hid a message in spam. It didn't and couldn't send email to anyone, but you could hide short messages in a "spam" email and copy/paste it to your friends. It got taken down as a "spam tool" even though I can't imagine it could ever be helpful to spammers.

Anyhow, now that we've established that ToS violations can occur for stupid things, have you never heard of trolls? Apparently, all one needs to do is get someone to link to some site they control, then change that site & report the person who linked it. Certainly not out of the question if you have anyone on the internet who hates you (yes, that might require that your blog have readers, so many LiveJournals will be immune...). Even on Slashdot, people like to submit links to things like TinyURL, then swap them out for Goatse after they get modded up. Hell, at least one troll group put out a random redirector that would send you to Goatse some % of the time while giving you normal content the rest. They could redirect all traffic from the LJ ToS enforcers to porn/Goatse/whatever with a simple modification of a script like that.

Got any LJ blogs you hate? Just convince them to link to you, report them, and they'll be down in no time at all, apparently.

Re:The way I got booted? (1)

Mundocani (99058) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408207)

I think that something like that is highly unlikely ("convince them to link to your site" just for the sake of pranking them? seriously? how does that really work out in reality). I can see that it is plausible regardless of how unlikely though. However, I don't think the outcome of a situation like that is that you get your account canceled. I think you get your account canceled when the government breathes down LJs neck, and I think that only happens if the person who pranked you put up something extremely bad themselves, in which case I'm pretty sure they're going to get more than a warning from LJ -- they're going to get prosecuted by the government.

Re:The way I got booted? (1)

Mundocani (99058) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408249)

For those who prefer their reading material in story form, here's another way of looking at it:

EvilKenny72: Hey Sheryl69, I made a cool site, link to it in your blog!

Sheryl69: Ok strange person, I like friends!

EvilKenny72 changes his site to an illegal movie download site

LiveJournal: Sheryl69, we have complaints that you are providing a link to an illegal download site. If you don't remove the link immediately your account will be terminated. Thank you for using LiveJournal.

Sheryl69: OMG! How did that happen! I'm so sorry, it's gone now, I don't know how that happened I swear.

FBI: EvilKenny72, you own a website containing illegal content, we'd like to talk to you right now.

EvilKenny72: D'oh!

Re:The way I got booted? (2, Funny)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408965)

FBI: EvilKenny72, you own a website containing illegal content, we'd like to talk to you right now.

EvilKenny72: I Russian, hah hah good lucks with your prosecutions Yankie.

Lame kids. (0)

pseudosero (1037784) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407797)

Obviously Livejournal doesn't understand the rapidly changing nature of the internet, It lost fad status long ago. If you're still on livejournal then what the FUCK are you doing. If you're on a SNS the you're obviously trying to be cool, in which case you need to keep up with the current trends. And I want to see some animated gifs of girls on your site too. Extra twinkly please.

Devil's Advocate (4, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407927)

I'm leaving LJ personally because a bunch of their BS policies lately, but let me play devil's advocate for a moment.

LJ will let you post most anything you want. I saw someone post a TOS violation because a guy had a user-pic of masturbating with a barbie doll. LJ didn't ban him because it wasn't his default icon.

LJ and SixApart came under fire specifically because of journals that had varying levels of content in regards to sex with children. LJ is owned and operated within the US and has to operate in conjunction with US law. LJ admitted they over-reacted initially and deleted some communities they shouldn't have. They reinstanted said communities.

This new policy really is only regards to illegal content, which LJ very losely regulates. There are many pirate communities on LJ, and LJ doesn't care about that. People discuss gangs, illegal drugs, and all kinds of crazy stuff. But when it comes to pedophilia, they have to cover their bases or get in big trouble with the government. When LJ said you couldn't post fan-fic anymore that featured sex and children, people got upset and started linking to it instead. If I owned Six Apart, I'd have the same policy simply to cover my ass.

If you don't like it, blog somewhere else. Quite frankly, if they go elsewhere, LJ is better off for it. Let someone else deal with the legal problems.

Re:Devil's Advocate (1)

Sibko (1036168) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408525)

If I owned Six Apart, I'd have the same policy simply to cover my ass.
If I owned Six Apart, I think I'd just move the company/servers to a different country.

Re:Devil's Advocate (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408593)

a guy had a user-pic of masturbating with a barbie doll

Now we know why Slashdot doesn't allow photos in user pages. Seriously though, what type of message is that supposed to send? Freedom of expression is a great thing, but who is this person trying to impress? Is it a vague demonstration of independence of thought, an obsure political statement or just an attempt to get attention? Scratch the surface and you'll find out its a troll.

Re:Devil's Advocate (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408613)

Suddenly I'm thinking of the PennyArcade comic where they discuss the potential implications of taking pictures and posting them to XBox Live. Tycho was flooded with pics of Gabe's "man berries".

Who else would be responsible? (2, Insightful)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20407973)

Someone/something's got to be responsible for illegal content posting, and I for one don't want that person/thing to be the automated posting system, or the operators of the system. It'd be a disturbing precedent if a company is held responsible for content posted on their sites. It'd result in draconian measures to prevent inappropriate content being posted, and generally hurt the site. Personally, I'm in favour personal responsibility.

Uh huh... (1)

wdr1 (31310) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408385)

One wonders how such a long-established blogging company can be so ignorant about the nature of the world wide web.

The real wonder is how Slashdot hasn't hired them yet.

-Bill

Slashdot (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 6 years ago | (#20408559)

Someone please explain to me why this couldn't happen to Slashdot.

Re:Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20408629)

Because everyone knows that most of the external links on /. are to Goatse anyway.
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