Barak Berkowitz (barakb25) wrote in news,

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.
What we did wrong;
1)      Over the last couple of days we have suspended (not deleted) about 500 journals out of many millions on LJ.
2)      It is now clear that in an unfortunate number of cases these journals were suspended for easily correctable problems in their profiles that would then allow them to be reinstated and that this was not communicated to the journal or community owners at all.
3)      Further, because of miscommunication these journals were taken down before review could be completed to avoid mistakes.
How we are fixing it.
1)      Over the next few hours we will review the journals that were taken down and wherever appropriate we will restore these journals or communities before 12 noon PDT. Sorry it will take that long but we do not want to reinstate true and clear violators of community policy.
2)      In some cases Journals that were restored will be asked to clarify their profiles to avoid the appearance that they are soliciting or encouraging illegal activities.
3)      Journals that we do not restore will be journals that we are fairly sure are actually intended to encourage activities that put minors at risk but we will review them if requested by their owner to be certain that we did not make a mistake.
4)      In cases that we ask owners to clarify their profiles and they fail to do so within 7 days we will suspend their journals again.
So what were we trying to do when we messed up so badly?
As most of you know, LJ has a zero tolerance policy toward content that supports child abuse, pedophilia, or sexual violence. In implementation of this zero tolerance policy there were two issues that made it hard to apply these policies consistently;
Issue one was profiles. 
There were a number of profiles that expressed “interest” in activities that most of us would agree put children at risk, notably pedophilia and child rape. Both in the instructions for profiles and in other places on the site we make it clear that interests listed should be evaluated within the context of “I like x”, “I’m in favor of x” or “I support x”.   As many profiles are the only public part of a private journal and profiles serve partly as an advertisement for people of like interests, it is important that the content of a profile can be evaluated as if it stands alone. If your profile were to express interest in pedophilia with no other content that describes this interest as in helping survivors or protecting children from it we must read the profile as “I like or I support or I’m in favor of it.” For this reason we suspended profiles that meet this criteria.
Another issue we needed to deal with was journals that used a thin veneer of fictional or academic interest in events and storylines that include child rape, pedophilia, and similar themes in order to actually promote these activities. 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. As such, we intended to  have suspend reported journals that do not clearly and substantially object to these a reasonable person would think supported these activities. while at the same time portraying them.
We recently received a complaint from outside the community about a number of journals. When we receive such complaints it is our obligation to look into them but it is our standards not theirs that we use to make decisions about the complaints. The source of this complaint was not the source of the problem we created.
We never intended this policy to cause the removal of journals that were have perfectly valid discussions about literature, law or culture. We never intended the policies to take down journals or communities clearly opposed to illegal activities but clearly we did.  We love our members of fandom and respect their role in our community.  We made a mistake and now we are going to try to fix it.
That is it. We have always been strong supporters of free speech and at the same time we believe deeply that children deserve special protections as well as the victims of violence and hate. We tried to implement a policy that walk that line and we did it poorly, we are all sorry. One could say that no matter what we did we would either be accused of opposing free speech or endangering children but I am sure we should and could have done this much better. I hope you can forgive us and we can regain your trust.
Barak Berkowitz
Chairman and CEO Six Apart 


Talking to press:
It seems that people are very upset that I did a phone call with cNet before posting here.  Probably a mistake but I did make it clear to them that we were still looking in to this and that I would have a better answer by the end of the day.  Sorry but it really took some time to figure out how messed up this was.

Isn't this all just a panicked reaction to WFI?
Not really.  WFI or anyone else may complain but we are responsible for applying our policies to those complaints.  .  Even idiots can be right about some things.  We try not to judge the complaint by the source but rather judge them by our policies. I believe the problem here was not the complaints or the policies but our very poor execution.

Why did it take so long?
Well when you mess up some times you really mess up and it takes a while to even sort it out,  It was really bad timing, so many people were traveling and even out of touch.  When we did get it figured out I thought it would be worse to make a statement that was incorrect than to wait and try hard to get it right,  I may have been wrong, I don't know.  I would hate to be apologies every hour,  Its late.
Will you make mistakes again?
I’m sure we will. These policies are hard to define and harder to enforce consistently. We are trying to walk a fine line between our love of free speech and our desire to protect children and others. The vast majority of these issues are clear but there will be time we make the wrong call, we will try hard to correct our mistakes faster  and not make them on such a big scale but I’m sure we will make them.

Where is Brad?
He is on a well deserved vacation.  He has worked so hard for so long to make this site great.  He probably would have responded faster.  I will need to beg his forgiveness too for doing such a bad job of filling in his absence.
I’m going to try and get some rest .

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