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PSA: LJ Adult Settings and Flags

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet

"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

PSA: LJ Adult Settings and Flags

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can of worms
Hopefully, many of you have heard of the latest round of changes on LJ already, but in case you have not, I'm getting my own version of the word out.

First, the facts. I'm not cutting this because I think it's important, especially for writers and artists which (surprise!) comprise most of my flist. I apologize if I go on a little longer than I generally like to without using a cut.

The Facts

Anyone following the litany of conflicts, dramas, and bad decisions on the part of LJ/6A over the course of 2007 probably isn't surprised by this latest addition to the LJ "features" lineup. It's been in discussion ever since LJ/6A realized that *omg* people wrote, drew, and did things that offended other people!!1!!1 And that minors (under 18, by definition in the US) were accessing content that was intended for adults.

In brief, LJ/6A now offers users the option to declare either their entire journals or individual entries as No Adult Content, Adult Concepts, or Explicit Adult Content. In LJ's view, Adult Concepts is akin to PG-13 while Explicit Adult is more like R or NC-17. Users who have declared birthdays that make them under 18 will have adult content collapsed under an LJ-cut. Users who have declared birthdays that make them 18 or older will see everything normally. Logged off users will see the LJ-cuts indicating adult content but will be able to click on the cut, declare themselves an adult, and view the content more or less normally.

More to follow on the "more or less" in a bit. :)

At the moment, use of the adult-content settings remains voluntary. I can't say that enough. I've seen a lot of panic along the lines of, "What will I do with my communities? My writing journals?" or "I have one thousand past entries now to go through!" No, you don't. Not yet. (And according to LJ/6A, you never will, but I leave that up to you as to whether you trust them in that.) And I'll admit that I was touched by the same panicky feeling, knowing that silwritersguild contains entries that are certainly Explicit Adult and debating whether that justified locking down the comm entirely to minors and really, really, really not wanting to do that but fearing the banhammer enough that, yes, momentarily, I considered it.

But this is voluntary. You don't have to start "rating" your entries according to adult content, you don't have to declare your journals and communities as one or another, and you really don't have to go through old entries, although I really understand why people don't trust LJ/6A to believe that it will always be that way.

And that brings us to the second part of this new arrival: the flagging tool.

While I don't think that anyone is really protesting the addition of the adult settings for those who want to use them, then the flagging tool is a bit more controversial. Look at the top of my entry where the little navigation buttons are; you should see an orange flag. If you believe that my entry should be seen by adults only, then you can basically vote to have it reviewed by LJ Abuse to be declared as such. (And feel free to try it on this entry, if you want to see how it works; even if I amass two dozen flags, this is far from an Adult Explicit post!) From reading the post and comments on the original lj_biz announcement, I have figured out that this works as follows:

  • One person finds my post offensive and thinks that it should be visible to adults only. They click the little orange flag.

  • My post is put in a "queue." This initially confused me because I thought this meant that it joined a line of posts awaiting review by LJ Abuse. From reading the answers LJ staffer marta is giving on the original post, this is not the case. Once a flag has been registered, then the post waits for more complaints to be made against it. Consider it like this: the initial flag is a reservation, but the restaurant only seats complete parties. So even though one person has arrived, x more are needed before the post can be taken back to that fine five-star Zagat-rated restaurant called LJ Abuse.

    Okay, perhaps my attempt at stretched metaphors made it even more confusing ...? ;)

  • Once enough flags have collected on any single post, then LJ Abuse will review the post. If they feel it deserves an Explicit Adult Content rating, then that rating will be added.

It is important to note that the same process applies to journals as well as individual entries. If you have the info bar at the top of your friends' page, then you will notice that the same orange flag appears there as well, along with an invitation to Flag This Journal. The same process applies. If enough flags are collected against your journal/community, then LJ Abuse will review it, and the entire journal will be set to Explicit Adult Content.

There is one important difference between having an entry declared EAC and having an entire journal declared EAC: LJ will notify users if their journal has been switched to adult-only but not if a single entry has. So if I post an NC-17 Maedhros/Fingon slash story and enough of my readers think that I should have set it visible to adults only and flag me, if LJ Abuse changes the setting for that entry, then I might never know. But if those same readers find me patently offensive in general, and LJ Abuse agrees, then I will be emailed when the setting on my entire journal is changed.

Also, for the record, LJ considers that when 50% or more entries that are Explicit Adult Content, then the entire journal/community should be declared as such, and entries/journals will only be forced to Explicit Adult Content, never Adult Concepts.

There are a few questions, myths, and misconceptions floating around about flagging that I've seen, so I'll try to address a few here with links to marta's replies so that you have an official statement from an LJ staffer, should you ever need it.

  • "One person with a grudge against me can have my entry/journal locked down for adults only." No. As stated above, it takes multiple flags from multiple people to lock an entry. As to what this number might be, I have no idea ... but one person can't ruin your life that easily. (Yet.)

  • "But nonetheless, it will be so easy for someone (or someones) with a grudge to flag every entry in my journal." According to LJ/6A, there are safeguards in place to prevent this sort of thing from happening. Only accounts over a month old may flag, and only five flags are allowed in any twenty-four-hour period. Also, apparently, someone who's too flag-happy can piss off Abuse until their flags are ignored entirely.

  • "I can be banned, earn strikes, or otherwise be punished if my entries or journal have adult settings changed by Abuse." No. As stated earlier, this is voluntary at this point, and even if Abuse changes the settings on your post/journal, you suffer no repercussions. Again, I leave this up to people to decide how much they trust that things will stay like this forever, but for the time being, it is strictly voluntary and carries no reprisals.

  • "What about sockpuppets? Many users have multiple journals, and it's easy (and free!) to create alternate LJ identities to harass me with." There's the thirty-day thing, for one ... so someone's sockpuppets would have to hold a grudge for thirty days before being able to do anything to you. Someone did ask marta about IP tracking, and she was vague ... intentionally vague, I think. Which tells me that IP tracking is probably one of the "several systems in place," but of course, describing those systems in any detail will make them easier to circumvent, and sooner.

I think that takes care of most the worries I've seen around LJ, but if you can think of (or have) another, please feel free to leave it in a comment. I or someone else may have seen the answer somewhere, or if you have an answer, someone else might benefit from it.

There are a few additional concerns, however, that I do not feel have been adequately addressed and think that users should be made aware of.

First, you have been defaulted to "Use moderate filtering (filters explicit adult and offensive content)" on Safe Search Filtering. If you want search results to show users and communities that have declared or been declared Explicit Adult Content, then you will need to change that. Go to Viewing Options to do so. Scroll all the way to the bottom. Change the last drop-down box to "Do not filter my results."

Likewise, Viewing Adult Content should be set to "Do not collapse" unless you want some/all adult content put behind an additional LJ cut. This is also managed on the Viewing Options page in the next-to-last drop-down box. This is the default, however, so if you haven't changed this, don't panic: So far, you should not need to.

Finally, those of you who post stories, artwork, and other entries with ratings and warnings outside an LJ-cut should be aware that your entire posting including warnings and ratings will be tucked away behind the Explicit Adult Content LJ-cut if you choose this setting or have it chosen for you. Again, this will not apply to your readers who have their ages declared as 18 or older, but if you have readers on LJ who don't have accounts or don't log in, then they will not be able to view ratings and warnings without clicking an LJ-cut.

Once they click the LJ-cut, the entire entry will be visible, including the material that you were warning about in the first place.

I think this is relevant because fandom has long standardized the practice of warning for potentially adult or offensive content outside an LJ-cut and then cutting what they know people might not want to see. The new system will make this a moot point for some readers. Now, I'm not trying to hit a panic button and say, "OMG! Someone might accidentally see secks!" or anything like that. But most of us understand that there is a difference between content intended for mature users and content that could be very bothersome or even damaging to some adults, e.g., entries that talk about rape, incest, child abuse, or suicide.

ETA: frenchpony has made a good suggestion to circumvent this problem where you feel it might become an issue, i.e. in a community that defaults to Explicit Adult Content: put your warnings in the title. A lot of authors and communities do this already, and while it's not something I've particularly favored, then I certainly favor it more than having victims exposed to content that might be harmful to them because of LJ/6A's attempt to Protect the Childryn from adult content. *headscratch*

Finally, here are some quick links to serve as references:

The original announcement made by lj_biz.
Your Viewing Options page to control what you can see in searches and how marked adult content will display.

And that brings us to the fun part of this post (for me, anyway):

The Opinions

If we have to have a system like this, then I can't find too much to complain about this one. The collapsing entire entries (including ratings and warnings) bugs me because it punishes those who have been making an effort to keep potentially offensive content from viewers who don't wish to see it. It also creates a danger for those for whom such content is potentially damaging. Like I said, I don't care so much if a homophobic reader sees a post with two men having sex as I care about a rape victim stumbling into a story or artwork that depicts non-consensual sex. "Explicit Adult Content" is really a broad designation, and one of the really positive things about fandom, I have always thought, is how mindful fandom authors and artists generally are about assuring that viewers who don't want to see a certain type of content don't stumble into it by accident, even to the point of getting rather ridiculous with the depth and detail of their warnings.

I also applaud LJ/6A for finally making an announcement and having a clearly identified staff member on hand to answer questions and concerns. The original post was vague and confusing in places as only LJ/6A can manage, but reading just a few of marta's replies to questions cleared things right up for me.

But then there is the idea on which this new feature is based, and that I find abhorrent. I'll be blunt: I'm tired of it being assumed that I care to make extra effort to protect other people's children from adult content in adult spaces. And yes, when a person's user profile (and I don't know about you, but I always read a person's profile before adding him or her as a friend) says that "some of the material I post here might not be suitable for young eyes," then that has been declared an adult space. A parent checking out whether dawn_felagund is a suitable friend for her twelve-year-old daughter should have no problem determining whether or not adult content is available in my journal.

But that is not enough. Why? Because that assumes that parents actually monitor what their kids are up to online and actually check out the people they're pals with. Heaven forbid we shouldn't have a button they can click to do that for them so that they can go back to watching American Idol! Heaven forbid those of us wanting to create a space for open conversation with other adults shouldn't be coaxed, cajoled, and outright forced into following such a system so that said parent can watch American Idol in peace without fear that little Dylan or little Morgan might encounter something naughty online!

You know what? I don't care about protecting children from the imaginary threat of "adult content." That is the parents' responsibility, not mine. I don't know your kids; I don't know what you do and do not think that they are ready to see. I was reading novels with explicit sexual content when I was in middle school; I remember watching soft porn scenes on Cinemax with my parents when I was thirteen (and my sister was twelve). And you know what? Neither of us turned out promiscuous; we weren't teenage parents, criminals, drug users, alcoholics, or any other sort of miscreant. (Unless you count artistic sorts with imaginary friends/muses as poorly adjusted or miscreants ... we both have them.) But then, I grew up in a family where I had to be warned before I took a field guide on insects into third-grade show-and-tell that other kids didn't know about "mating"; I grew up in a family that was always open about sex, drugs, violence, and most importantly, knowing the difference between reality and fantasy. In other words, just because something looked cool or fun on TV didn't mean that it was a good idea in real life. And so I have no doubt that my parents would have found most of the stories, artwork, and conversations being posted on my friends' page acceptable when I was a teenager.

There's just such a sickening lack of responsibility among many parents these days, and policies like LJ's just play into the delusion that this is acceptable. I'm sorry, it's not. Having children is a choice and a responsibility, and so if you choose to have children and choose not to monitor what those children are doing online, then that is a lack of responsibility on your part and your part alone. Not mine for writing and publicly sharing smutty Maedhros/Fingon stories. Not LJ/6A's for doing more to stop me from publicly sharing smutty Maedhros/Fingon stories. Not Congress's for failing to enact a law making my publicly shared smutty Maedhros/Fingon stories illegal. It is the parents' fault because with all the software and technology available for filtering and monitoring a child's Internet access, there is no reason why they can't be looking over that child's shoulder and know what the child is up to online, even while sitting on the couch and watching American Idol.

Furthermore, I find LJ/6A's policy undermines parental authority, and I've heard parents on my flist and elsewhere agree. The parent--not some nebulous corporate entity--should have the ultimate say in what is acceptable or unacceptable for his or her child to view. If I feel that my seventeen-year-old is mature enough to read a story with explicit sexual content, then who is LJ/6A to tell me that I am wrong? Again, this policy panders to those who don't deserve anything near the attention or consideration that they receive by media and communications companies: lazy parents who care just enough to hit the panic button over "porn" on LJ but not to get their asses off the couch or home from the precious office long enough to restrict or monitor what their kids are up to. And it punishes those who are taking an active role by requiring them to teach their children to lie, declaring incorrect birth years, to access content that the parent has reviewed and deemed acceptable.

With that said, this journal will not be declaring itself as "Adult Concepts" or "Explicit Adult Content," nor will I be labeling any entries as such. I have always taken care to warn and cut potentially offensive content, not because of "the children!" but because of people who have different squicks and tolerances, who might be reading their flist at work or on grandma's computer, or who might be actually damaged by certain content. (For example, I just posted a story involving suicide, and I know several on my flist have had experiences with suicide. I'd rather not set off a reaction in these people because I'm too lazy to type a warning and use an LJ-cut.) I also have--and have had in the past--people on my flist who are under the age of eighteen. But who am I to usurp the judgment of their parents and declare certain content off-limit? Again, I warn in my userinfo about adult content; I warn on each post that I make that might be offensive. I keep no secrets.

If a parent can't be bothered to read a couple paragraphs of my profile or my journals ... well, I can't be bothered to inconvenience myself by labeling my entries and possibly losing the readership of friends who aren't on LiveJournal.
  • Excellent post, Dawn. Nice and clear on the issues, as usual. :)

    What bugs me most about the new system: it doesn't allow for any gradation of warning. Hiding "adult content" behind a cut doesn't protect the kids, really (there are so many ways around it!), and it takes away the power of the author to warn their readers outside the cut about the types adult concepts behind it. Fandom has always had clear rules about labeling your fic/art/whatever and giving warning about what readers might find objectionable, so... :-/
    • Thanks, Allie! :) I figured it was well worth the effort to get some good information out to people in lieu of the rumors and omg!panic! that I'm sure everyone is hearing, so I hope it is helpful.

      I see this as basically a CTA (Cover Thy Ass) on the part of LJ/6A. Their own staffer marta basically acknowledges this: Yes, we know that kids can get accounts under fake birthdates, but at least we can say that we asked their age and they lied about it. That's why--and I sometimes feel like I'm beating my head against a wall about this--I can't say enough times that the responsibility must lie only with parents to control and restrict what kids are seeing on the Internets. The only thing that policies like this ensure is that lazy, negligent parents can't complain. I'm sorry, they shouldn't be complaining in the first place. If they do, it should be asked, "And where were you while little Ashley was reading Harry/Draco NC-17 slash?"

      And you're right that fandom has always made monitoring so easy for parents. We rate and warn everything. In fact, the software that I use for the SWG archive will allow me to change just about anything from my control panel. But it will not allow me to shut off ratings without having to alter the program itself. To me, that speaks volumes about how honesty about content is valued in fandom.
  • much more reason for me to be content in controlling my LJ in a Friends Only mode. I have one person I know who is under 18 and I have a filter that keeps him out from questionable material, I don't need anyone telling me what is or isnt good for kids, I already know. But also I like my Friends Only because that limits the number of people who could possibly flag my entries; though, I doubt any of them will pull this crap of flagging. I won't have any random wanderers coming by and seeing something that harms their pretty little minds. :p
    • *answers your WTF with my WTF* :^P

      Actually--and I should have put this in my post and might add it as an ETA, if anyone is still reading this thing--friend-locked journals cannot be flagged at all. So it's not even an issue at all for you! :)
  • Wah a long post, should I write a long comment back? LOL Or just say me2.

    Yesterday I spent a lot of time reading comments and answers, there is something I did find out yesterday and that is about the fact that a huge part of long time lj users suddenly saw how their lj was set to moderate filtering. I thought I had that linked somewhere, but I know it is said somewhere by an LJ staffer (marta I think) that they started to register dates of birth somewhere august 2005 in a seperate index, for real a year later that it was fully used (I can look tomorrow for that comment if you want). That index they used for all LJ's to define which moderating setting they wanted to use. I am from 2004 (had an old acc of 2002) and back then birthday was not mandatory and you could not hide it, so I left it blank on purpose back then. Later when we could hide it, I filled it out, so hence the confusion going on like: but I have my birthday fully and yet you dare to set me back to that moderate filtering setting angriness all around. No bad testing on LJ behalf, they should have thought about that when they were running tests. Well I think we can all agree on that communicating and using common sense was never LJ's strongest side. *sighs*
  • I was definitely one of those who would declare an incorrect birth year in order to access adult content. Heck, there was probably more soft core pr0n in the school hallway than what I read on the internet at the time!

    I cannot change my viewing setting to "Do Not Collapse"...It's grayed out, even though my journal is not marked as underage (I double checked). Annoying.
    • Is it still not functioning? You might want to open a ticket with LJ Support; Rhapsody posted a link above indicating that they were having trouble with some of the adult content features not working properly for people who are over 18.

      I would have used a fake birthyear too because my parents never tried to keep "adult" (read: sex) from me because *gasp* they actually thought it was more harmful if I went out into a world with HIV/AIDS without some knowledge of sexuality than if I knew a thing or two about how sex worked.
  • Hear, hear! I agree with your final opinions 1000%!

    I don't have an issue with LJ providing its users with flags they can use to label their content. I do think LJ is asking for trouble by allowing others to flag posts in other people's journals as "adult content". If LJ Abuse can place an Adult Content tag on my journal entry, than use of that tag isn't exactly voluntary, is it? As for their requirement that multiple people have to report the post in question before the Abuse Team will flag it, sockpuppets with different IP addresses simply aren't that hard to create. (Heck, I already have several longstanding RPG-related journals I could easily use for that purpose if I wished to harass someone.)

    I'm hoping this system won't devolve into trouble, but given LJ's past performance, I'm rather pessimistic. If LJ is really that worried about "protecting the children", why don't they simply restrict membership to those 18 and older?
    • I think they're caught between a rock and a hard place: They want to compete with other social networking sites that cater to minors--Facebook and MySpace come to mind first and foremost--but they're also saddled with a userbase that is comprised largely of fannish adults doing fannish things that aren't necessarily "good for the children." Personally, I don't understand why they don't seize the niche that the second audience creates: start a site for grown-ups only and, like you said, allow accounts only to people over 18. I would love that personally ... but as for it happening? Yeah right. I think there's just too much of a cash cow in seizing the teenybopper market ... and their parents' pocketbooks ... and the ad dollars directed at them (and directed at their parents' pocketbooks).
  • I think that, as far as censorship options go, this is probably not quite the best, but certainly not the worst, way for them to do it. It's voluntary, not enforced, and, while I'm not crazy about the option to flag other people's journals (an open invitation to wank), at least their current set-up seems to guarantee that flagged entries/journals will be reviewed by a human being.

    What I think it doesn't take into account is the fact that half the "adult" content on LJ is generated by underage people. It's not so much a matter of little Tyler and Ashleigh needing to be protected from the Big Bad Pr0nz as that their slightly older brother and sister (Joshua and Madysynne) are the ones writing it -- badly -- in the first place. I would also be willing to bet money that this is all pre-emptive, that no actual parents of actually horrified actual children have actually complained.

    It's a CYA put together by a company that doesn't understand what a social networking site is or how fandom operates, but finds itself with a social networking site that hosts an awful lot of fandom on its hands. I wonder if they've examined the inner workings of YouTube, which also allows people to flag other people's content.

    As for warnings, it might be that the best thing to do is to put some basic warning/rating information into the title of a post if the entry or the journal is to be collapsed. Most people do that anyway, and it probably isn't such a bad idea.
    • I thank you for the suggestion about putting warnings in the title; I added that as an ETA to the post right after you made it.

      What I think it doesn't take into account is the fact that half the "adult" content on LJ is generated by underage people.

      That is an interesting point ... and one that I didn't consider. I wonder how it will work if a user under 18 creates content that ends up being flagged as AEC ... will the user be able to access his/her own content? You know, I don't think I've seen that addressed anywhere, but it is a very valid point.

      I know that I was writing (bad) sex in stories when I was in middle school; my friends then were all writers, and I know I wasn't alone in this. So I've no doubt that what you are saying about Madysynne (*sporfle*) is not a rare case here either.

      I would also be willing to bet money that this is all pre-emptive, that no actual parents of actually horrified actual children have actually complained.

      Yes, rather like Janet's boob flash at the Super Bowl a few years ago: parents were throwing up their hands and claiming that their four-year-olds were traumatized and having nightmares. Give me a break. No, those four-year-olds were just tools for creating fiction more out-there than my story with the talking pegasus, in order to accomplish a political aim.

      Warriors for Innocence was much the same way. Claiming to be a watchdog group that aided law enforcement in child porn investigations, it new precious little about how law enforcement actually handles such cases. It only underscores my belief that parents who really care for their children--and organizations really concerned with shutting down pedophiles online--aren't coming after slashfic on LiveJournal.
  • It all drives me crazy. Children have parents. I took care of my kids, they should look after their own. (Or in the case of most of these complainers let other people worry about their own children and get a life!) In most of my most adult pieces, children would have a very hard time wading through the boring stuff to get to what, when I was a kid, I called the "good part". But I have to be nervous about this. Does anyone read books anymore? What is considered racy in the fanfic world is all over the place in mystery novels, spy novels, etc., not to mention prime time TV. I really just hate this censorship stuff. This country sucks.

    When I had my granddaughter living with me, she used the same computer I use now--in a public room of my apartment, with the screen facing outward. Simple. I knew what she was doing on the computer. There are methods for parents to use to filter adult content which they can set up with a password. If the kid is smarter than they are and can change the password, then they are probably smart enough to read whatever they want anyway.

    I'm ranting just ignore me.
    • Does anyone read books anymore? What is considered racy in the fanfic world is all over the place in mystery novels, spy novels, etc., not to mention prime time TV. I really just hate this censorship stuff. This country sucks.

      Regarding seeing racier content in most books, I think they are protected by the fact that the irresponsible-parents-in-question have probably never taken their kids to a library ;-) (I know I was reading much worse than fanfic in library books from a young age and I turned out all right!). But yeah, this country does really, really suck. *Growls*
    • (no subject) - dawn_felagund - Expand
  • This annoys me immensely, not because it necessarily affects me (I am fairly confident that the only people who read my journal are my 20 or so friended people, and some of them probably don't even read it!) but because this system has failed other sites miserably in the past.

    First of all, the "User Flagging" - YouTube (et al) have done this for years and the results have been horrible. The intent of the flag, of course, is to mark "adult" content and have it removed from the site (I'm talking hardcore porn). But what they've ended up with are tons of homophobes on a mission to remove all LGBT content from the site and you know what? YouTube complies!

    AfterEllen researched the topic last year and found that heterosexual kissing and canoodling was very rarely flagged, whereas GLBT kissing and canoodling was almost always flagged. Oftentimes this even led to the removal of said content, explicit/offensive/adult or not.

    AfterEllen's interesting article about it here: http://www.afterellen.com/node/4303

    Anyway, like I said, I'm not worried about that happening to my journal specifically. But everyone who has heard of the parents suing the Massachusetts school district for mentioning that gay people have families, or the homophobes who have gay-content banned from libraries (including children's picture books like "And Tango Makes Three" - it's about penguins, people! - placed in the ADULT section of the library), knows that people will flagged teh gay as "teh offensive" or "teh adult"... and more often than not teh establishment will bow to that pressure.

    So... I cannot stand this policy already. *Fumes*

    Second of all (way back when, there was a "First of All"), I was registering my birthday as 1973 since I was about 11 (obviously I don't need to now) and no one will ever convince me this isn't an extremely common practice, especially among children who would otherwise need to be filtered because they're "up to no good" (subject to interpretation). And I echo what everyone else has said about how this is a ridiculous safeguard, a faux contract with a minor, and a just plain stupid way to go about the whole thing.

    • Thank you for the link to the article. It's fascinating--and disturbing--but not surprising. I've no doubt that slash will bear the brunt of flagging in fandom whereas het stories containing the same mild sexual content (kissing, hugging, et cetera) will get an automatic pass.

      (Note to flist, if y'all are still on this post and thread: Please read the article that Sharon has linked! It's really good and really important, too, I think, to be aware of how biased even those of us who are "liberal" on GLBT issues sometimes remain.)

      I say the comment above because I'm sure that many "liberal" people would not question the flagging of the scene from Femme Fatale highlighted in the article ... but they wouldn't question the lack of flagging on an identical scene involving a het couple either.

      And this reminds me too of the whole omg-dumbledore-is-gay!11!1!! fiasco just a few weeks ago where no one found anything "pedophilic" about Dumbledore when he was straight, but all of the sudden, he likes adult men, so there's all this "subtext" about him and Harry. It's so painfully obvious that even people who accept gay people in speech still have misgivings in thought. However, there are studies showing that awareness of bias makes people less likely to react according to their biases, so I for one plan to holler myself hoarse and get on everyone's nerves while getting the word out. ;)

      Second of all (way back when, there was a "First of All"), I was registering my birthday as 1973 since I was about 11 (obviously I don't need to now) and no one will ever convince me this isn't an extremely common practice, especially among children who would otherwise need to be filtered because they're "up to no good" (subject to interpretation).

      Even LJ's own staff member admitted that it's terribly easy for children to log out, visit the entry they want to view, lie about their age when queried, and access the content anyway. This is just a CYA scheme, and it's so bloody obvious ... but the problem arises that while covering their asses, LJ is putting some of their userbase at risk of the same sort of malicious flagging that you describe on YouTube. Maybe it's a trade they're willing to make, but I don't think that all of the users agree.
  • Excellent post, Dawn, and very clear to boot. I agree with you on all points, including the "why it is *our* problem, suddenly, now?" part. It is the duty of the parents to police what their children are doing on the web, if they want to police it.

    Not mine, and I am of course cutting my posts like a responsible adult (and give appropriate warnings of the content) already.
    • Likewise, I always warn--even for original fiction where this isn't commonplace--if I think a story or post contains something that may upset a reader. I find that perhaps the most ironic thing of all about this whole flagging fiasco: It largely targets a community that has gladly regulated itself in terms of rating and warning for certain content. Most fandom comms I know are fairly liberal about just about everything ... but don't you dare forget those ratings and warnings!

      Re parents and monitoring content: I saw on metafandom yesterday a couple of posts taking pretty much the opposite stance that I have (and I haven't replied on any of them because I'm not sure I can keep myself polite and civil :^P), including much whining along the lines of, "All these non-parents don't understand how hard it is!!1!!"

      Umm ... right. It's really "hard" when there are services and software out there that monitor the 'net for parents. I'm not a parent, but even I know of Net Nanny and key-logging software. I can't help but to feel that turning a kid loose on the Internets and expecting that she will never encounter adult content is like telling her to walk home alone through a red-light district. *sigh*
  • I don't care about protecting children from the imaginary threat of "adult content." That is the parents' responsibility, not mine.

    Damn skippy.

    Thanks for this post. I missed the wankitude, but just woke up to those collapsing thingies this morning, and now am fumed utterly.
    • Oh, boo. I switched my settings right off the bat thanks to rhapsody11's quick PSA on the subject, so I didn't have to deal with collapsing things and censored searches. But the whole ordeal was mangled as only LJ can do. (Well, and DMV ...)

      And you're welcome! I'm glad that it was helpful. :)
  • (Anonymous)
    This is Alquawende, again... This post caught my attention.

    Dawn, I'm sure you know my age... kdding...

    I agree that if parents want to 'protect' their kids than they can get a software or something. Also, kids nowadays are very protected from the outside world in what I call, 'the bubble.' It might actually be good for them to see some of this stuff, so it shows them that the world isn't at peace, because it's better that kids know of some of this stuff instead of being ignorant. This generation of children could be considered the most 'protected and shielded' I think. I'm glad that my mom let me read novels even though some had explicit content*cough, The mists of avalon, ,memoirs or a geisha & pillars of the earth* when I was eleven and twelve!

    I agree that LJ should just let the users handle the ratings for their journal or posts. Anyway kids are always on the computer nowadays and most of them have an email so they can easily, as you said, register, pretend about their age and just read the Adult content! It doesn't change anything except become an inconvenience to the users.
    • Welcome back, Alquawende! :)

      I've never understood the value of shielding children or young adults from the realities of life either. I mean, I think this is a decision that only a parent can make. Is a child ready to know of certain truths or unpleasantness? I was so young when I learned about sex that I don't even remember learning about it. Likewise, my parents let my sister and me read just about anything; they were available to talk if we had questions.

      But then you see the dangers of shielding kids too much, like an article I read once about teen pregnancy that interviewed a bunch of sexually active teens, some of whom didn't even know that sex could result in pregnancy. I'm sure that, lacking this most basic of truths, they sure didn't know about HIV/AIDS, which is an even scarier thought ...

      But that's why I think it needs to be the parents' decision, not LiveJournal's and certainly not mine, on what their children read. I remember the resentment I felt at age 17--even then more grown up than some 30-year-olds--when my mom's judgment would be trumped by this or that regulation about what was "appropriate" for a young lass my age. I despised feeling shielded from life, like knowledge would harm me. Sorry, I find ignorance that much more dangerous.

      And I actually don't know your age! I usually have a vague idea of the ages of people I know online, so in my mind, you are in my age group, but I could be totally wrong in that. :^P
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