Bi Online Hub Lost?
LiveJournal, the online community which was the home of the bi scene online for more than a decade, has ceased to be a safe space for LGBT blogging and communication.
Before the internet fragmented community to the four winds, for many years from 2000 LiveJournal was the busiest online forum for bi people in the UK. National conference BiCon had a busy community, Bi Community News kept in touch with our readers there, and local groups had presences too. We’d link to those online communities, but they are in the process of being shut down as we report this news.
Alternative social media hubs have drawn traffic away from LiveJournal since its early- to mid- 00s peak, but a core user base has remained, and the archives record bi stories just as the archives on our website do.
The sale of LiveJournal from the USA to a Russian owner ten years ago rang alarm bells in some quarters, with a promise that most operations would remain US-based not being kept: most of LiveJournal, Inc, the continuing US operation, was wound up in 2009 with jobs lost and functions transferred to Russia.
A few months ago it was announced that all the servers were now Russia-based. But this week new terms & conditions of use for the website were suddenly unveiled which required all bloggers on the site to be writing in line with Russian law, which includes 2013’s Section 28-style law limiting “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations*”. Accounts were effectively suspended until the new Ts & Cs were accepted – so they had to be accepted even by users who intended only to back up their content locally before deleting their accounts.
Coming almost the same day as the news of the state-sponsored attacks on bi and gay men in one of the Russian states, followed by news of detention centres for known homosexuals and reports of senior government officials inciting families to conduct ‘honour killings’ of gay relatives rather than face the consequences of having someone queer in the family, this shift by LiveJournal has prompted an exodus of many of the LGBT users remaining on the site.
Some of the material which was hosted is being migrated to a similar site, Dreamwidth.
* – and quite how traditional and ubiquitous in nature what they think of as “non-traditional” actually is sadly doesn’t count for much in a Russian court