I, um, am not actually part of any fandom. Although I have read every Harry Potter book and seen every Star Wars movie and even read a little bit of fan fiction, I do not consider myself to be "in the fandom" for either of these. But I know a lot of people have been following lj_biz, and if you have, you may be just as puzzled over the preservation of "pro-anorexic" communities (which actively seek to promote self-harm) on LiveJournal, while fan-made drawings and the like depicting two overage characters are not always permitted.
I wanted to post this for anyone who, like me, is quite alarmed by LiveJournal's nonchalance regarding "pro-anorexic" communities. As a former sufferer of an eating disorder, this is something that really pushes my buttons, so to speak, and so I decided to try an experiment.
I reported two posts in the proanorexia community. One had a comment in it encouraging the OP to join the commenter in a very dangerous "liquid fast" for three weeks. Another was a post discussing the recreational use of prescription pain medicine in order to lose weight. Both seemed to me to violate LiveJournal's ToS in that they actively encouraged self-harmful activities.
Under the cut is the reply I received.
Dear LiveJournal user eponine84,
Thank you for your report. We understand and appreciate your concerns about entries such as the ones you have linked to. Please let us state our position.
Our experience thus far has been that communities such as these, dedicated to discussing destructive behavior, actually do far more good than harm. They allow open and meaningful communication among people engaging in a variety of self-injurious behaviors and allow users to provide support for each other as they seek more constructive methods of expressing inner turmoil. We realize that these behaviors can be harmful to the health of those suffering from them, but we must also recognize that the activities being discussed are not illegal.
We fully recognize that self-injurious behavior is harmful and that these communities are dedicated to maintaining a lifestyle that has the potential to cause harm. Speaking strictly from a safety and protective stance, we would of course prefer it if none of our users participated in any way in potentially harmful and dangerous activities, and if those communities had no reason to exist. However, we still believe that, apart from being protected as free speech, it is the lesser harm to permit them all.
Suspending self-injury and pro-anorexia communities will not make anyone engaging in these behaviors cease self-destructive actions. Allowing them to exist, however, has several benefits. It reassures those who join them that they are not alone in the way they feel and express themselves. It increases the chance that the friends and loved ones of the individuals in the community will discover their behaviors and assist them in seeking professional help. It makes it more likely that we will be contacted if a post by a community member is of the kind where we would contact local authorities. It provides a supportive environment that will, hopefully, lead others on the road to recovery. Ultimately, these communities are, much like other communities within LiveJournal, protected by the ideal of freedom of expression, something we here at LiveJournal are particularly reluctant to interfere with, as long as that free speech does not violate our Terms of Service or the law.
We truly feel that offering an open forum for meaningful discussion is far more productive and helpful than shutting the communities down and attempting to silence their members.
The entries that you have linked to are not actionable under our policies for the following reasons:
We do not believe it is appropriate to make assumptions about a person's health to determine whether an activity would be harmful for that individual, even if the content is posted to a community with a name such as proanorexia. It is not the Abuse Prevention Team's role to be the doctor, nutritionist, or psychiatrist for LiveJournal users, and we do not feel we should refuse service to, or censor anyone simply because it is possible that they should be consulting with one or more of these groups of people.
However, the comment to this entry that is located at http://community.livejournal.com/proanorexia/48628480.html?thread=184737792#t184737792 is a violation of our policies. This is because the comment not only describes an extreme dieting plan, but also invites another user to join her. As such, we will require the removal of this comment. Please allow several days for this process to be complete.
It is not against LiveJournal's Terms of Service to discuss recreational drug use. While we understand that such discussion may be disturbing, our policy is that we will not intervene unless it is determined that the discussion will cause serious and lasting physical or economic harm. That is not the case with this entry, and as such, we will be unable to require its removal.
We thank you for your concern and appreciate your taking the time to write to us about this very sensitive matter.
LiveJournal Abuse Prevention Team
I'm quite upset by this brush-off of this very sensitive issue, and I thought that some of you who have been following this debacle might be interested in knowing that this is LiveJournal's very disturbing official stance.