LJ Strikethrough 2007

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The Great LJ Strikethrough of 2007

What happened?

At the end of May 2007 (approx. 23/24/25) several rumors pop up all over livejournal: Six Apart, livejournal's owner, plan to cleanse livejournal of communities and journals with content including child pornography, incest and similar content. The word is that Six Apart will delete any journals with keywords like "incest", "rape", "non-con" and "underage". The rumour is widely mocked, although many fans did remove such terms as well as Wincest, and also place fic under a friends lock.

On May 29, the Harry Potter community pornish_pixies is the first victim of what will be known as the LJ Strikethrough of 2007 - the community that caters to Harry Potter smut lovers is suspended. Several other fan fiction communities get deleted in the next couple of hours, among them communities with fictional incest. All this leads to an outbreak of panic, with fans locking down their (fiction) journals and communities. Of course, the real targets are child pornography communities, but it seems like fandom journals are falling left and right. Once more, someone mistakes fictional stories or fictional likes with real life events or likes.

The culprit is found quickly - a religious, conservative group calling themselves Warriors for Innocence has sent a list of problematic journals to Livejournal, and they, forced to act, "strike through". (Fans, who visited the Warriors for Innocence site claim that they suddenly found spyware on their computer - furthermore, WfI admits to follow links back to their source.)

pornish_pixies' mod receives a notification that her communitiy (and several others) were indeed deleted for the incest. The Wincest fraction of the Supernatural fandom is naturally concerned. Powered by the recent FANlib debacle, for once, fandom seems to stand on a united front. Even those who find Wincest or fan fiction with underage characters icky are offended by LJ's actions.

On May 30, the panic has subsided and fandom starts to fight. Several communities are created that organize fandom in an effort to strike back. The public outrage is huge - fans all over livejournal, whether or not they formerly supported the deleted communities - get together in an effort to win back their "freedom of speech". A news-post on lj-news maxes out on page 100 when angry lj-ers tell lj what they really think of the suspensions and deletions (in case they haven't noticed...) (Source).

vichan makes the valid point that LJ has 13 million journals, and wonders how many of these are fandom journals. In associaiotn with fellow Supernatural fan krisomniac, they start fandom_counts and within a couple of hours it has over 10.000 counted members - the numbers climb constantly up to over 30,000 in the next two days.

Meanwhile, Six Apart advises its support team to keep their mouths shut about the situation, while the CEO talks to the press, (Metafilter article, News.com article) but not to LJ-ers.

Migration to other blog services start - prominent lj-ers like Warren Ellis call for a lj boycott (Source). Many fans begin setting up accounts on greatestjournal.com or other communitites in case of a mass exodus from LJ. Several of the resistance-communities initiate their step-by-step programs.

On May 31, LJ finally responds. Fandom isn't yet pleased, despite CEO Barak Berkowitz's admitting that they "really screwed up". Unsuspension of journals start immediately - LJ runs slow/with problems for the next couple of days.

After the Strikethrough - On to Boldthrough

On August, 3rd, Livejournal suspends fan artist ponderosa121 (popular in the Supernatural fandom for her Wincest Fanart) for violation of their policy, referring explicitly to a Harry/Snape pic posted in the recently un-suspended community pornish_pixies. Furthermore, user elaboration gets suspended for a depiction of the Weasley twins in a sexual relation. Neither of them received the promised warning beforehand - they came home to find ALL of their accounts deleted - elaboration had a permanent account. (Ironically, LJ issues a permanent account sale just weeks before.)

Apparently, employers from Six Apart and Livejournal had reviewed the questionable pictures and found them to be "without any artistical merit", causing fandom to really go blue in the face with rage. (Ponderosa IS, after all, a real life artist who earns her money with it.) (Source: [here])

Furthermore, as of 3rd of August, if you typed a deleted user's username into an LJ client and hit post, the infamous "strikethrough" name didn't appear - instead the username was bolded (therefore, the less catchy: Boldthrough).

Just as last time, fandom was in an uproar - more and more users migrated to other blog services or at least created back-up accounts on Greatestjournal or Insanejournal. And just as last time, LJ didn't react professionally - they hadn't worked out their policy yet (Source: [here]), making it impossible for them to answer confused user questions as to what was allowed and what not. Then they (inofficially) made the even bigger mistake of becoming rude, mocking fandom in public posts: like [LJ Staffer Abe Hasan], or vice president [Anil Dash] who had a dirty and really stupid starring role in the original Strikethrough in May, or even former LJ owner and president [Brad Fitzpatrick] who resigned, and called the art in question "child porn" in a rather insensitive goodbye to his former customers.

On August, 13rd, over 10 days after the suspension of the LJ users, LJ made a public post to lj-biz in which they declared their changed policy, stating that

a) a policy document will be linked from each page (what with report abuse buttons, sponsored Ads AND policy links, those LJ pages sure will be cluttered in the near future) b) the policy now makes a distinction between photographic and non-photographic art - in case of non-photographic art (the questionable fan art is such) they will adopt a two-strike policy, meaning the user will only be deleted after reoffending or refusing to delete the offending content.

Understandable, LJ users are wary whether or not LJ will keep word in relation to their own policy, seeing as they didn't do it before when suspending ponderosa and elaboration without warning.

Aftermath

During these events, many LJ users started looking for alternative sites - primarily JournalFen, GreatestJournal, InsaneJournal. Some LJers started hosting their fic off-site on web-sites or other blogsites. There was a great sharing of ways to back up Livejournal accounts to these sites, and how to cross-post, as well of many offers to host fic on other servers. There was much discussion over whether certain fandoms should exit en masse to one site, rather than fragment the fandom.

By November 2007, the majority of the Supernatural fandom remained on Livejournal, with a few posters moving to JournalFen. The daddycest community closed it's LJ account and moved there. The ability of people to subscribe to feeds from other journal sites, helped maintain connections with posters on these sites.

Trivia

icon by stardust-rain

The official Strikethrough 2007 song is "Hoist the Colors" from the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack.

As is fandom's normal practice, the response to the crisis also involved the production of icons and macros.

Links

fandom flies Discussed options for alternative fan journal sites fandomtossed community on greatestjournal - explaining the strikethrough step by step
innocence_jihad on LJ, still follows Warriors for Innocence
imaginarycircus' del.icio.us tags - a very extensive link collection on the happenings of the Strikethrough
stewardess - explores what commerical motivations may have been involved in Six Apart's actions
metafandom - links to posts discussing the issues particularly as they relate to sex in fanfic