Insomnia (insomnia) wrote,

SixApart -- communist dupes?!

A few days back, I noticed a giant sh*tstorm in a SixApart announcement about spinning off management / oversight of LiveJournal's Cyrillic blogs to a Russian company. LJ described the situation as "opt-in", however, so although I thought it was a skeezy, slimy thing to do -- and a particularly insensitive act, considering all the warnings 6A has gotten about going forward with sweeping changes without first talking to its users -- I didn't make a big deal of the matter.

Well, now the situation has gotten worse. The International Herald Review has done a story on the deal, with some particularly damning details:

What's so pernicious about the deal is that it replicates the very Kremlin model that poisoned the rest of the Russian media.

All ingredients are in order. The oligarch (Aleksandr Mamut, one of the few oligarchs who made a smooth transition between the regimes, owns Sup); the upcoming 2007 and 2008 elections; the independent media asset with tremendous popularity; and the controversial figure in charge (Sup's chief blogging officer is Anton Nossik, the father of the Russian Internet and, among other things, a former associate of Gleb Pavlovsky, the Kremlin's spindoctor).

Sup already announced the creation of an "abuse team."
Typically, abuse teams monitor, warn and suspend blogs that post inappropriate content; prior to the deal, this function was performed by LiveJournal's American abuse team.

WTF?!?!? Outsourcing abuse to people with strong ties to Kremlin apparatchik... and presumably also organized crime and the KGB? What the hell were they thinking? Don't they see the inherent danger of outsourcing abuse to *any* company under a repressive government. Instead, their minders will now be able to shape the primary customer communication, communities, and focus for much of LiveJournal's Russian audience. Even if the users aren't told what can and cannot be said, the users will most certainly be led... and it clearly matters what they are led towards in the future.  

To many of us, LiveJournal is just a personal diary. To the Russian users of LiveJournal -- also known as ZHZH, short for Zhivoj Zhurnal, or simply ЖЖ - LiveJournal is the closest thing they have to a free, independent media source. It's bad enough that they lumped Ukranians, residents of the Balkans, Serbs, and even U.S. citizens that have blogs in Cyrillic languages into this essentially Russian deal, but now it appears that they didn't do their homework to discover for themselves the potential ramifications of who they made this deal with.

As the article goes on to say:
thousands of (Russian) bloggers, who have filled in the void left by the disappearance of independent media, will become divided, some of them falling for the Sup offer, some of them migrating to other services, and some of them stopping to blog altogether (a trend that has started after Sup's announcement). Thus, with the direct or indirect assistance from Sup, the Kremlin will manage to burden and, perhaps, even reverse the process that has made opinion-sharing in Russia so easy.

To some of us in the West, this may sound a little excessive or paranoid... but trust me, it doesn't to many Russians, who live in a country where paranoia helps to keep you alive.

Once again, I'm stunned by the incredible level of profit-driven ignorance on the part of 6A, who continue to claim that they know what LJ is all about, while disrespecting our site's culture and communities. Their cynical monetization of LiveJournal shows that they know the price of everything, but apparently, the value of nothing.


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