In news that will have far-reaching consequences for your Broken Social Scene fan page from 2003, LiveJournal has instituted new censorship rules, straight from the Motherland. And before you applaud the institution of new rules meant to make the internet a safer place, it’s worth noting the conditions applied here are basically the opposite of the progressively more socially inclusive language most social media sites are adopting. So prior to going any further, maybe we should drop the following image into this article, just as a brief reminder of the man who has come to embody all of his country’s worst militaristic and bureaucratic excesses, and also he really hates this graphic.
According to io9, LiveJournal, the once-mighty social network that functioned as a repository for teenagers explaining why the world is such a cold and unfeeling place, has continued to run as before despite being bought by a Russian company in 2007. However, now that the servers have been moved from the United States to Russian (as of December last year), the new user agreement for the site was changed last week to incorporate the following adjustments: Agreements now prohibit “post[ing] advertising and/or political solicitation materials unless otherwise directly specified in a separate agreement between User and the Administration,” or “perform[ing] any other actions contradictory to the laws of the Russian Federation.” That’s language so vague and all-encompassing as to mean users can’t post any pro-LGBTQ text, or even talk about how, say, Vladimir Putin is a sadistic war criminal responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocents, and also a laughable buffoon who can’t even handle a joke about how he’s not the most virile man in the world.
Not only that, but blogs that receive more than 3,000 hits a day are now considered media outlets—and while that may be very exciting for the high school sophomore in Nebraska with a somewhat popular daily recap of how many times his local news anchor said “delightful” during the previous night’s broadcast, it’s a bit disingenuous. Mainly because that means those sites are now subject to rules preventing them from publishing anonymously, using obscene language, or sharing “extremist” materials. Again, maddeningly vague language, but very useful if you’re an almost clinically paranoid autocrat with a penchant for jailing people who participate in protests against your overreaching authority. That’ll show those teenagers who dare point out that Putin resembles a sentient ball of Play-Doh crafted to resemble the Pillsbury Doughboy after receiving a particularly festive glaze in a kiln.
Even before the updated rules, Russia had already begun censoring LiveJournal sites calling for mass protest in the country. And critics note that users are now at risk of having their data available to Russian intelligence, which is a diplomatic way of saying that Russian intelligence will 100 percent mine whatever the fuck it wants from users, and possibly more. This is a real blow for people who don’t want to take the time to move all their archives to a new site, but unless you want to see late night replies to your parsing of Lorde lyrics, posted by someone with the handle “DefinitelyNotPutinAlthoughHeIsAGreatLeaderAndSexyToo”, it might be time to consider a new location for your insights.
[io9, like The A.V. Club, is owned by Univision Communications.]