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delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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Kittens > Drama
delirium pissed off
Judging by how many times it's shown up on my friends page, I suspect most of you are familiar with the current kerfuffle with the suspension of several fandom-related LiveJournal accounts. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, I suggest that you are very lucky, and that you should keep it that way. For those of you who are absolutely sick to death of the whole thing and just want to crawl into a corner and curl up until it's gone away, ignore this entry and go look at kittens instead. For the rest of you, please read on.

For those of you who aren't aware, I used to be on the LiveJournal Abuse Team. I'm not any more, and haven't been for several years. While I do have several friends who are current abuse team members and/or LiveJournal employees, I do not have any sort of inside knowledge about the current workings of the team, nor do I know anything specific about the current issue.

What I do know, however, is that being on the abuse team is a particularly shit job. Let me enlighten you as to some of the crap that they have to deal with (or at least, what they dealt with in my day; I presume that this hasn't changed much). First and foremost there's gallons and gallons of what can best be described as petty wank. "Mummy! She said mean things about me!" "But she started it!" and that sort of thing. People with the emotional maturity of a 2 year old, whose only response to conflict is to cry to authority. These people are easily dealt with, but there are a lot of them, and they can be draining and frustrating.

Then you have the trolls, the flamers, the spammers and the other undesirables. You have the dumb ones who just spam goatse on 100 communities and get suspended 10 minutes later, and you have the smart ones who push, little bit at a time, see exactly how much they can get away, and then tread the fine line between what they can and can't get away with for as long as possible.

You have people cracking other people's accounts, either as part of their personal dispute, or as a coordinated attack to try to gain control of desirable usernames or accounts. You have a whole lot of sifting through data, and reading accounts, trying to determine just which accounts were compromised, who the original owners were, and so on.

In almost every case, you have two sides, and no matter what you decide you're going to piss off someone. And that someone will frequently bitch and whine in public, and distort the facts. They will paint the picture as if they were obviously right and were done a great injustice, and you can never point out how they are wrong because of confidentiality issues. They will organise mass write-in campaigns where you get umpteen emails about one issue, and then bitch when you give them the same reply.

You get fake legal threats by people who think that mentioning the word "lawyer" is going to make you shit yourself and give them whatever they want. You get genuine legal threats from people who actually do have a legitimate case. You get legal threats from large corporations which are probably baseless but they could afford much better lawyers than you could so you're essentially powerless.

You get people doing and saying things you find abhorrent, but fighting to protect their freedom of speech. You have people whose cause you really support and yet having to take action against them based on technicalities. You have cases you just can't touch because they're far too emotive for you. And you have cases where you start second-guessing yourself because you're worried that your personal feelings are clouding your judgement.

You have people who you are absolutely certain are little shitbags, in one way or another, but where you just can't marshal enough evidence to prove it beyond doubt, so you have to let them get away with it.

You have the really fucking gross shit. The people who do things that just make you want to vomit. Back when I was on the abuse team, it was oft joked that to be on the team you had to be able to masturbate to tubgirl while eating your breakfast without batting an eye, because if that grosses you out then you're going to be in dire straits when you see the really demented shit.

You get reports of people leaving suicide notes on their LiveJournal, and have to desperately going hunting through their entries for contact information so you can get in touch with the police to try to save their lives. And sometimes you hear back with a happy ending. And sometimes, you can't find any information and then you don't hear anything back at all.

You have to deal with shitty laws. I'm not a fan of COPPA or the DMCA, but what I think about them doesn't matter. They're the law in LiveJournal's jurisdiction, and while you might want to be able to make an exception, you don't have any discretion in such matters.

You are responsible for, essentially, the record of the lives of however million people use LiveJournal these days. Here's a decision you have to make. Suspend one journal, and cause definite sadness to one person, or let it pass, and risk a very small chance of legal trouble for the whole site and things getting screwed up for everyone.

So there we go. I don't know about the ins and outs of this specific case. I don't know what legal advice was offered. I don't know who took the final decision, what they based it on, or even whether it was the right decision or not.

What I do know is that I would never want to do that type of work again, even if you paid me for it. It is a thoroughly shit job in every way. I don't always agree with abuse team policy or decisions. Quite often when I was on the team, I figured that I would have done things a different way had I been in charge. Even so, I have every confidence in the decency and integrity of the people running the team, and of the team members I know. I am quite quite certain that any decision taken was thought over long and hard, almost certainly discussed between several different people, and finally a decision made, in good faith, for what was best for LiveJournal.

I don't know whether this decision was the right one or not, and quite frankly, neither do you. Unless you a) have a thorough grounding in US law, and b) have access to all the internal data used in making this decision, then you can't possibly know.

So I'm just going to trust that the people who do have the legal grounding, and who have seen everything, and who do a thoroughly shitty, thankless job are making the right decision. I think it would be nice if more people could do the same.

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Well said!

I'm not on the abuse, nor have I ever been, but those that I care about are, and I hate to see them shit on.

I agree. Unfortunately these days people need to make sure they're legally covered and free speech has limits. Whilst it's annoying tis better than having to have the whole thing shut down over a crazy law suit later on. Someone always has to make the shitty decisions and I think it was brave of them as they must have known what an uproar it would cause.

Kittens are cute too- just wasted five minutes of my life there!

How can you call that five minutes a waste!?! ;)

It was a joyous waste of time! Time wasting is one of my favourite activities....

Well in that case.

I should definitely do more of that than I already do. :)

(Deleted comment)
This is beautiful, Rho.

Poor Abuse Team:-(

I don't know enough about US law to comment on the legalities.

I suspect they'd be on dodgy ground for breach of contract in English law [TOS say 'no using LJ for illegal stuff', in practice 'listing illegal stuff as interests' is not considered to be using LJ for illegal stuff, policy changes overnight. Arguably,
(1) the in practice 'listing illegal stuff as interests not being a problem' has become through common use a term of the contract.
(2) LJ has set a precedent (cf. breastfeeding icon wars) of allowing users a reasonable period of time to comply with policy changes. That precedent would also be capable of becoming a term of the contract by its acceptance and use by both sides.

Of course the remedy of a breach of this sort of contract is probably not worth something litigating over. If you win a case for breach of contract the point of the damages is to put you in the position you would have been in had the contract been properly performed ie. had your journal not been deleted. Quantifing the type of loss suffered (lost friends, lost posts, loss of 'community') in monetary terms is difficult and even on a generous estimate wouldn't amount to much.

LiveJournal is run by a private company which is entitled to take a stricter approach to what may be published on its systems than the law actually requires. I'd suggest the correct course of action is for individuals to re-publish their 'questionable' material elsewhere online - preferably on a website they own where the only limitations will be those imposed by the hosting provider and wait and see if anyone actually bothers to sue them.

This is one of the reasons I'm anti a 'blogging code of conduct'. No rules stricter than those imposed by the law ought to be imposed on freedom of expression.

*flails* KITTENS!!! *keeps hitting the button*

While the whole stupid affair has now given me a headache, your post on the subject is one that I'd be guaranteed to read. Far too many people don't seem to realise the utter crap Abuse have to deal with (should they be renamed LJ Abused? Poor sods).

Would you mind if I linked to this post? It eloquently states what Abuse have to deal with regularly, and I think people need reminding.

Wouldn't mind at all, no.

I also note that the very calm, reasonable and 'please don't do this to us, we want to protect people's free speech first and foremost' response from Abuse that the aggressors reposted on their blog hasn't got enough coverage.

Although actually in this case I haven't seen anyone ragging on Abuse, because there is an obvious target whose fault it actually is which they can focus their anger / upset on instead. I think Abuse gets it in the neck a lot more when nobody knows where the source of the complaint is and hence they can't be angry with them, so the anger has to go somewhere.

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