Users are fleeing LiveJournal after the blog community’s new Russian owners banned “political solicitation,” which might include pro-LGBTQ talk.
LiveJournal’s servers were moved to Russia in December, Gizmondo reports. Then the site’s user agreements changed. Now, users are not allowed to post “political solicitation materials unless otherwise directly specified in a separate agreement between User and the Administration.” Users are also forbidden from performing “actions contradictory to the laws of the Russian Federation.”
Keep in mind that Russia has some strict anti-LGBTQ laws. You can’t promote gay rights over there. You can’t share that image of Vladimir Putin in makeup because it makes him look gay. And the internet is heavily censored.
The term “political solicitation” can be open to interpretation, as some have argued it’s not an exact term in Russian federal law. In the past, similar phrases have been used to condemn conversations about LGBTQ issues as “gay propaganda”…
The Russian government censored five websites that were calling for a mass protest, including a LiveJournal posting. This happened two days before the updated rules were put in place.
Gizmondo notes that there are concerns about Russian authorities spying on LiveJournal users as well.
Though hardly more than a blip on the social media landscape now, LiveJournal was a major social media platform back in the early 2000s. It hosted blogs by popular webcomics artists and writers (including George R. R. Martin, who is still there). It was a major hub for fandom communities devoted to geeky interests like cosplay and fanfiction.
But the rise of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and others platforms has eclipsed LiveJournal’s popularity. And now that the site has fallen under Russian control, even more users are leaving, Mashable writes.
I was proud to have made the official LiveJournal comic, now it has twisted into something icky. https://t.co/pig1uQHRnB
— Ryan Estrada (@ryanestrada) April 9, 2017
— Bonnie Burton (@bonniegrrl) April 9, 2017
— Amie Kaufman 🚀 (@AmieKaufman) April 9, 2017
The threat of Russian censorship and spying is, understandably, a turnoff for most users. Anti-LGBTQ censorship would be especially bad for the LiveJournal community. This isn’t just because of politics, or because many users identify as queer; there’s also a massive, thriving slashfic (fanfiction featuring same-sex couples) community on LiveJournal. If the slash fiction goes, LiveJournal goes with it.
(Header image via Glenn Carstons-Peters)