Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hosting Your Life

A few weeks ago, a Flickr abuse-team member deleted a photograph from a community member because one of the 450 comments could be construed as inciting harassment, which is against Flickr editorial policy. The deletion was irrevocable -- for some reason Flickr does not understand the concept of quarantining questionable content for proper deliberation and determination -- and would have passed in the night were it not for the fact that this member is a very notable community member and the issue the comments were about was appropriation of photographs by 3d parties without consent, quite the hot button for accomplished amateurs like Flickr has many of.

The fora exploded, and of course in the end we got a missive from the CEO or whoever the he was about how he was taking time on his holiday to answer his community from his Treo, the abuse team member felt awful about the mistake (but no word if they faced anything else internally for irrevocably deleting a user's content) and blather about policies and procedures being put in place so this would never happen again, without going into any specifics like, say, what, or a time-table, or community involvement. It read like pure PR we were supposed to fall for, and meanwhile, Flickr is still doing careless and stupid moderation.

My Pro membership is coming up June 4th and I am wondering whether I want to stay a Flickr member considering how cavalier they are about user contributions. I didn't join for the community or the cute little cards, I joined because they had e-mail upload that would post on my blog automatically. Now LJ has fixed it so I can do that directly, but there I am with a photostream I'd have to migrate away so as to not leave loose ends and another account to manage, and I am kinda liking that I can keep some photos slightly away from view... Ugh, decisions. But the point is that suddenly I stopped taking Flickr for granted as just being there for me, and realizing I was giving my pics to actual thrid parties with opinions and delete-keys, not just hosting machines.

Now LiveJournal [LJ] is doing it. LJ, [a community blogging network] has decided, under pressure from some nobody watch-group, to start deleting journals about pedophilia and rape and incest. Including journals written as fictional character studies by Game Masters running RPG games. Including communities for rape and abuse survivors that have the word 'rape' in their interests. Including a Spanish-language community devoted to discussing Nabokov's literary masterpiece about teen sexuality, "Lolita". It's insane.

Yes, yes, of course Six Apart were thinking of the children and their image. But the thing is, and please correct me if I am wrong, distasteful as writing can be, writing out fantasies about fictional people is not legally actionable, or, a repository of sexual writing of all kinds, would be in such trouble. LJ is making noises they are doing this to cover their legal ass -- as in their legal counsel said that stating that 'rape' in your interest list means you are interested in raping people and LJ does not want to be seen facilitating that -- but the deletion of support-journals is just stupid, stupid, stupid. I can't even do a Niemoller about how first they came for the pedophiles, because LJ already has come for slash-writers, fictional characters, support groups...

And again, I am being confronted with my content there not being hosted by machines, but by machines with trigger-happy moderators. No, I do not write about rape and incest, so I should be 'safe', but that's just putting blinders on. In reality, your own content is never safe until you host it on your own servers. And for the current content-creators, this situation sucks.