“Mortified” Six Apart CEO Makes Apologies

    May 31, 2007

All right.  I know there are a lot of passionate LiveJournal users out there, and I know censorship is bad.  But in this case, it was also somewhat funny.  LiveJournal claimed it had blocked access to around 500 journals on the basis that they supported pedophilia – turns out, some of them were just discussing Lolita.

Others involved a famous boy wizard.  “One now-deleted group called ‘pornish_pixies’ focused on fan-written fiction, frequently sexually explicit, about characters in the Harry Potter novels,” writes CNET’s Declan McCullagh.

So it seems that LiveJournal went a little overboard; even the folks at Perverted Justice state, “[T]hey decided to just wipe out whole fields of communities whether they were related to those who advocate child rape or not.”

Also, as it was originally thought that LiveJournal had deleted the accounts in question (it now appears that they were just suspended), a number of users – hundreds of them – deleted their own accounts in protest.  Others voiced their objections within LiveJournal.

And now the chairman and CEO of Six Apart (which owns LiveJournal) has made a post on the site.  Barak Berkowitz lists his mood as “mortified,” and his post’s title, “Well we really screwed this one up…” gives you an idea of the admissions he makes.

“We have always been strong supporters of free speech and at the same time we believe deeply that children deserve special protections as well as the victims of violence and hate,” Berkowitz states.  “We tried to implement a policy that walk that line and we did it poorly, we are all sorry.  One could say that no matter what we did we would either be accused of opposing free speech or endangering children but I am sure we should and could have done this much better.  I hope you can forgive us and we can regain your trust.”

It will be interesting to how LiveJournal users react to this apology in the long-term – there was a lot of anger over the whole fiasco.  But come on, people – there’s a bit of humor in this, too.