lavendertook: (Default)
lavendertook ([personal profile] lavendertook) wrote2017-04-06 02:04 pm

Do we know LJ's stand on Putin vs Russian resistance?

Although I prefer DreamWidth because they operate with integrity, I will continue to crosspost to LJ since I still have friends on LJ who won't come here, and for other reasons personal and political I will elaborate below.

I don't understand all the legalize of the TOS change on LJ, but as I understand it, I don't think it compromises my USian privacy anymore than it did before. It's no worse and probably better than Facebook. And even Dreamwidth can't protect me from a skilled and determined hacker gunning for me, so when I post privately, I do it with the understanding that what I post under lock can at some time be revealed against my will, and write accordingly.

I don't like being treated rudely as LJ staff just did with the stupid sign-and-then-we'll-unlock-your-LJ trick, but that's nothing new with LJ--they just find new and creative ways to be rude all the time out of disregard for us English language users/assumed Westerners because we are a minuscule constituency of users for them compared to their Russian base, and I suspect they resent our influence and I can't blame them for that. Facebook does like crap without the Western hegemonic provocation issues. I'm not going to hold Russians accountable for being rude to English language users as English language users without knowing more about this bunch than I do right now and what relationship they have to the regime that helped install a big orange tool in the White House.

As far as solidarity with Russian resistors go, as far as I know, LJ staff may be doing all they can to keep the service alive for them under Putin's regime. All the new rules seem to apply to Russian LJ's that have over 3000 members. Maybe they have been forced to do that by Putin's regime to negate large sites for resistance. However, my understanding is that the TOS changes made clear these rules do not apply to LJ's with fewer members, and that gives resistors ways to still disseminate info and connect, especially with smaller linked local sites. Until I find evidence that they are a tool of Putin, I'm going to assume they are allowing what room for resistance they can. And as long as that is a possibility, then I want to support them. The Russian resistance may still be able to use LJ as an avenue for connection--the more dispersed avenues the better. So support for LJ from outside the Russian regime might be a minuscule help to them.

If LJ/SUP turns out to be a tool of Putin's regime, the help we as outsiders are giving them is pretty minuscule as well, so I don't see reason to abandon ship over this latest wave. I just can't presume to know what effect LJ has for Russians, their member states, and their unhappily occupied territories in functioning under the new TOS and what use it will be to them.

I welcome opposing arguments from anyone who knows more about LJ's situation and politics than I do and can teach me. Yes, I am deliberately having this discussion in public; What'SUP, if LJ staffers happen to notice me here. :-P

[personal profile] penta 2017-04-06 09:08 pm (UTC)(link)
Random dreamwidth person here. I think if you read you'll understand why I am not posting this on LJ.

The way I understand it, you do not survive in a communications related business in Russia unless you have executives in key positions (including on the board of directors) who are in what is known as the "active reserve" of the FSB (the Federal Security Service, the "internal" parts of what used to be the KGB, responsible for basically every bit of dissident repression you can think of) and/or the SVR (the Foreign Intelligence Service, the "external" parts of what used to be the KGB). "Active Reserve" is a weird term that doesn't *quite* translate to English, but what it means essentially is that the officer is paid and employed by SUP/LJ, but remains at the same time an active, serving FSB officer....With all the obligations that implies. For once, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_reserve_(KGB) actually supplies a pretty good overview. Basically, if you do not have board members and other key employees who are active reserve, you are not going to be allowed to operate legally as a Russian corporation within the Russian Federation in that industry.

What this means: Unless you are stupid or desperate, you are not going to use SUP/LJ to organize resistance to the Putin regime. SUP/LJ *answers* to the Kremlin. Absolutely everything a Russian national says on LJ of political interest can plausibly be presumed to be recorded (and indexed and filed away by) the FSB. That's all going by Russian law as it stands.

Does this mean random Russian LJ user who whines about Putin is going to be disappeared? That's not likely. Not impossible if there are other reasons to disappear them, but not likely. But does it also mean you as a foreign national could quite plausibly get them in a whole heap of trouble quite by accident? Yes. Recall that the Russian definition of treason is almost-absurdly broad and may quite legitimately be construed to mean "if we don't like your blog we can lock you up".

Meanwhile, because DW is hosted in the US, on US servers, the FSB can't get at their contents in a risk-free manner. Does not make it impossible, but makes it a lot riskier for them. Russians can actually post...I will not say anonymously or even psuedonymously on DW (at least not in ways that would defeat state power - if the Russians want to hack DW enough they will find a way, but that way will not be cost-free or risk-free for them, and if they get caught Bad Things could happen on a geopolitical scale), but the barriers to breaking down pseudonyms for the Russian government are higher when those pseudonyms are on DW.

I don't know if this helps you make a decision one way or the other, but that's the sticky thing about this situation. It's forcing us (users who might get involved with things Russian) to resurrect old rules about Russian state power, international relations, etc. that we thought we had been safely able to put away with the end of the USSR. They don't always mesh well with the internet, not in a comfortable way at least. My personal decision is to never go back to LJ - let them delete my LJ, there's nothing there that matters overmuch - and to be very very careful about what I talk with Russian nationals in Russia about online, even in English (I do not speak or read Russian). Not for my sake; I'm fine. For theirs, just in case things get even more closed-off there.
grey_wonderer: (Default)

[personal profile] grey_wonderer 2017-04-07 05:02 am (UTC)(link)
I'm going to cross post too. I don't post that often but I do comment and read. Think I will cross post for now and read both journals.
saraqael: (Default)

[personal profile] saraqael 2017-04-07 05:42 am (UTC)(link)
I wish I knew more about what was happening on the LJs. I saw some comments here about changes to the TOS and everyone bailing on the platform. I barely post here and stopped cross-posting to my LJ quite some time ago. I tried to log on over there but couldn't get to my journal unless signed the new TOS first. I didn't bother. Will they delete my LJ if I don't sign the new TOS?
saraqael: (Default)

[personal profile] saraqael 2017-04-08 06:34 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh gosh. If they're going to purge journals, I suppose I should at least accept the new TOS for now and post something quick while I decide what to do with the journal. I don't mind giving up the LJs, tbh, but I do still have a couple of friends who only post over there and I'd hate to lose access to their journals.
spiralsheep: Reality is a dangerous concept (babel Blake Reality Dangerous Concept)

[personal profile] spiralsheep 2017-04-07 11:41 am (UTC)(link)
understanding that what I post under lock can at some time be revealed against my will, and write accordingly

This.

the stupid sign-and-then-we'll-unlock-your-LJ trick

On the one hand it's bad customer service... on the other it's a compulsory must-read warning to everyone about Russian law, and LJ's business ethics and lack of customer service, and acts as a reminder to the complacent that the Five Eyes are also big brothering us (amongst other warnings). I note that well-known fraudster Donald Trump is currently flailing around trying to use Twitter to persecute, and potentially prosecute, USian dissidents.

The public face of LJ under Vlad the Putrid is unlikely to reflect the true intentions of either its named owners or its ordinary staff because neither players nor ordinary people want to openly dissent in ways that might end in them being targetted. Public protest is useful for some purposes and private dissidence is more effective for others. Everyone inside any system both colludes with and resists that system to some extent (including us).

I think your point about the proliferation of platforms is the most intelligent commentary I've heard. If we can't predict who will jump which way when pushed, and we can't reliably pre-emptively do that in most cases, then supporting the maximum number of realistic possibilities is our best strategy.
Edited 2017-04-07 11:42 (UTC)
primwood: (Elijah as Ryan)

[personal profile] primwood 2017-04-09 10:46 pm (UTC)(link)
What I find distressing, and this goes for any place in the world, is the deliberate suppression of free speech. Not that Russia has free speech. But this sort of thing can and does happen in US too, and it makes us all more cautious of what we write. I don't like that one little bit. I still haven't agreed to the TOS, and I don't know if I will or not. It's very sad.