pre-emptively censors groups in fear of fed 2257 law

December 22, 2005 – 11:58 am

Over at Fleshbot, Violet Blue writes,

Once upon a time there were plenty of reasons to visit social networking site, even if you weren’t a member; the online community fostered groups with open dialogues about sex and culture and created resources for MILF fans, armpit fetishists, and cocksucking enthusiasts that everyone could enjoy.

But in a sad turn of events yesterday, Tribe has voluntarily applied 2257 record-keeping requirements across the board for all users and groups in its architecture, thus removing a lot of worthwhile content and making group leaders like me feel more like the headmistress at a very bad boys’ school … and not in the way I’d like.

Link to full text of post with pointers to background stories, and there’s more on Violet’s blog here.

Snip from a related post on SFist:

The very definition of a ‘chilling effect’ on free speech is when legislation or enforcement of new laws are so potentially onerous that people and organization self-censor out of fear and potential liability. Today, the users of were one of the first groups on the internet to feel that cool breeze, as Tribe have instituted their new Terms of Use with amendments to the provisions regarding mature public content, and presumably, any content deemed offensive by a Tribe user.

Of course, you know who to thank, ultimately. The changes to the obscenity code recommend by Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and recently passed into law have jurisdiction over a wide range of potential content, as the Supreme Court has defined ‘community standards of decency’ the ultimate standard in an obscenity hearing. While has a strong local user base, and naturally our standards of decency here in the Bay Area are rather tolerant, this opens up the potential for a user in the flyover states to deem content produced here obscene, since they can access it from anywhere in the world. Blogger and EFF attorney Jason Schultz explains:

What happened at Tribe is what we can expect in a world where the FBI dictates the terms of what freedom of expression means. It’s disappointing that Tribe overreacted like it did and banned far more speech than necessary, but one also has to realize, in a world where you can go to jail for what you help publish on the Internet, there’s a serious chilling effect from laws like 2257.


Previous posts on Boing Boing related to 2257 (Link) and’s self-censorship (Link). Image: Jacob Appelbaum.

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