As I'm sure many of you are aware of by now, an internet blogging site called "Warriors For Innocence" has, with the help of LiveJournal, affectively taken down a number of communities and personal blogs dealing with shota, lolicon, rape, and incest. This was first reported to me last night via Warren Ellis' Blog.
Here are some of the facts that I can make out, difficult as it may be to decipher through the dribble that plagues most LiveJournals.
On May 18th, Warriors For Innocence wrote an open letter to LiveJournal and Six Apart stating:
I have found many ads on very inappropriate web pages that are hosted by LiveJournal.com. These ads are in close proximity to such subjects as Child Rape, Child Molestation, Child Abuse, Child Pornography, and other disturbing topics. I am sure that as a responsible and well respected company, you know nothing about this, just as the advertisers on LiveJournal do not.
I have been in contact with the LiveJournal Abuse Team about this very issue for quite some time now, and my concerns have fallen on deaf ears. I have also contacted Six Apart, but never received a response ...
...I have contacted these advertisers and informed them of where their ads are placed. I have had nothing but shock and thanks for my efforts. These ads are placed through Google Adwords and Google Adsense. The companies buying these ads do not know that they are paying for representation on web pages that list interests as "child abuse, child f***ing, child molestation, child porn, child sexual abuse, f***ing kids, f***ing little kids, f***ing young girls, kiddie porn, child sexual abuse, incest" and more.
I have taken many screen shots of these disgusting pages with the ads on them and will be glad to email them to you if someone will contact me with an email address to which to send them.
Unfortunately, these ads not only appear on individual sites, they also appear on general category pages, some of them called “f***ing children”. These general category pages will have the ad at the top of the page and show many sites listed that are “interested” in the same category.
Since there are literally thousands of sick pedophile and child sex sites like this on LiveJournal, merely requesting to have the ad removed from a single page or site will not stop the problem. The advertising companies have had to ask to withdraw their ads from all of LiveJournal.com in order to protect themselves and the reputations of their companies. I have emails from several advertising companies who have done just that.
Your advertisers are leaving LiveJournal. LiveJournal is doing nothing to stop this. You need to assess this situation and consider “cleaning up” LiveJournal and removing the sites that not only list these “interests” but also describe in graphic detail the sexual abuse and rape of children as young as 3 years old.
It’s time to value child safety above free speech. It’s time to do the right thing. If morals will not compel you to do this, then maybe loss of advertising dollars will.
As I see it, LiveJournal and Six Apart folded to WFI, and as of last night, systematically began purging LiveJournal communities and personal journals. Today WFI made this statement on their blog:
Setting a new precedent, LiveJournal, owned by Six Apart Incorporated, deleted over 500 of its sites or journals today. Responding to requests from Warriors For Innocence, LiveJournal chose to remove sites that promote pedophilia, child sex, child abuse, and other illegal activities.
LiveJournal has revised their Terms Of Service (TOS) to include new standards that will ensure that they protect the safety and well-being of everyone who visits LiveJournal.
And in an interesting statement, among accusations that WFI was targeting innocent groups, Lolita Fashion, survivor communities, and communities discussing the novel Lolita WFI points the finger back at LiveJournal and Six Apart by saying:
You may find it easy to blame us for the deletion of these sites, but we are disturbed by their deletions as well. LJ is obviously trying to avoid accusations of discrimination by deleting all sites with specific interests listed. They made that decision, not WFI. Go ahead and point a finger at us. Call us vigilantes and idiots. Accuse us of banning or deleting you. But you forgot something. LJ is hosting your sites. It’s their call, not WFI’s.
Warren Ellis, who really first broke the news to the blogging community, wrote today on his site, this amazing statement, that I find to be very powerful and well thought:
Without contradicting my previous take on the situation:
Until such time as LiveJournal/Six Apart work out how to tell the difference between fantasy fiction communities/support groups/fashion discussion communities/survivor histories and actual criminal use and traffic, and restore those fiction groups and survivor support teams to full working order, my own LiveJournal will become read-only, and I will produce no new content to be read on that system.
I do believe that some stupid people got what was coming to them today. But a lot more people have been mistreated by LiveJournal for no reason beyond blind panic. I see no reason to tacitly support that by continuing to write under a LiveJournal URL.
Clearly this is a very tough situation for LiveJournal and Six Apart to have been caught up in. I will not display my personal views on the matter here, but rather want to inform people of what is actually happening. Warriors for Innocence, by name, are warriors, and warriors incite war. The war that they seek is against pedophiles and to protect the innocence. But every war has victims, and the victims today have been the many LiveJournal users who are not pedophiles, but by expressing strange and deviant interests have had their right to post on LiveJournal revoked.
LiveJournal is however, working with the victims of their own attack by providing them with software to help back-up all their old entries both on personal journals and on communities. catrinella provides many useful tools and tips over in this entry. ancarett also provides users with helpful advise on how to have your voice heard in this era of electronic correspondence, no matter what your stance on the matter may be, including the phone number for Six Apart's office.
While no official statement by LiveJournal or Six Apart has been posted yet, I'm sure that we'll see one within a few days, if not sooner.
I will say this on the matter, LiveJournal has been around since 1999, and I'm sure that through the many years they have had a number of complaints from various organizations, watchdog groups, and government agencies. Warriors For Innocence cannot be the first. But as any good company, LiveJournal and Six Apart has a team of lawyers, and while these complaints must have surfaced before, they have been able to deal with them in their own, albeit slow way. Most likely through individual suspension of accounts as complaints have been lodged. What I find most astonishing, is how quickly LiveJournal responded to this matter not from a government agency, not from a large watchdog group, not from the media, but by a small group of bloggers. This small group of bloggers did nothing more but to go for the jugular. They went for the cash vein. And it is through this means, through the this threat that LiveJournal and Six Apart have decided to act.