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LiveJournal cites breastfeeding images as 'inappropriate' and sends mothers to the virtual restroom

Women on the popular blog site LiveJournal are calling foul at the company’s decision to brand images of breastfeeding as ‘inappropriate.’ Many users of the site have joined together to urge LiveJournal’s parent company SixApart to address their concerns and reevaluate the policy.

Small "userpics" of no more than 100 by 100 pixels represent LiveJournal members throughout the site. Users can define one of these icons as "default icon" which plugs it into the user's public profile. These default icons were originally not permitted to be ‘sexually explicit or graphically violent.’ Recently, icons which depicted breastfeeding were cited as being ‘inappropriate’ by the LiveJournal abuse team, a group of volunteers who monitor complaints on the site. After clarification was requested, LiveJournal changed their FAQ to reflect a no nudity rule and is claiming that icons with visible areola or nipple are not permitted. Whether or not areola is visible in a photograph is dependent on a number of factors, including skin tone of the mother and physical changes during pregnancy.

The full Press Release can be read on this page

If you would like to download the Press Release in PDF Format it is available for download here.

Information on the specific user default icons that were deemed inappropriate by LiveJournal and SixApart can be found in This Gallery. All icons presented in this gallery are used with permission of the creators.

Overview on LiveJournal Abuse

Bullet Points - Breastfeeding and LJ Icons

  • Default userpics are 100 x 100 pixel images representing users on their profile page and site searches.
  • Default userpics must not be "inappropriate." This was defined in the FAQ as not being "sexually explicit or graphically violent," but was recently changed to "nudity" instead of "sexually explicit."
  • Breastfeeding is exempt from federal nudity law in the US.
  • The rules LiveJournal Abuse now says it follows are to disallow any female nipple or areola in default icons, although this has not been added to the FAQ.
  • Whether or not areola is visible is dependant on a number of factors, one of which is skin color.
  • Labeling breastfeeding as "inappropriate" fosters the feeling that it should be hidden from view.
  • The current rules allow default userpics with racial slurs and all manner of potentially offensive text.
  • Breastfeeding default pics showing a few pixels of areola are considered inappropriate, but swastikas are not.

Bullet Points - Problems with LJ Abuse *

  • No appeals process for suspensions, along with refusal to answer legitimate questions from users.
  • Inconsistant and contradictory answers given to users about LiveJournal's rules and what is regarded as a breach.
  • Questions raised about breaches of privacy and abuse team's ability to read users' private posts have not been answered.
  • Discourteous replies received by users asking questions.
  • Replies received evade questions put by users, and support requests are then closed with no further response.
  • Rules not specified in Terms of Service or abuse team policy document are used to suspend accounts, and definition of words (such as harassment) are twisted to suit team's decisions.

* Many reported with more details on
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