I'm reading much drama and angst over the new flagging feature for LJ. The LJ powers posted an update with some clarifications, but the main problem I see with the system has not been addressed -- more on that in a moment after I rant about some of their other comments.
Some clarification of their clarifications.
- LJ sez: "As additional measures to prevent abuse of the flags, only accounts registered for over a month may use the flagging feature, and use of the flags is limited to five per user every twenty-four hours. Misuse of this sytem [sic] will result in the user's flags not counting towards the threshold for review."
- LJ sez: "Most importantly, logged in users over 18 will not see any of the changes made by the settings of this program unless they choose to. You won't see any of the lj-cuts related to this system and your friends page will appear exactly as it always has. We feel it's important that this doesn't impact adults using LiveJournal."
- LJ sez: "This system will not accept flags on friends-only content. Although a flag icon may be present on the navigational strip, if you click it while viewing friends-only content it will only give you the option to flag the journal. Friends-only content is not affected by or included in any part of this system.
- LJ sez: "The date of birth used when you create your account is the way that your age is calculated by LiveJournal. If you did not enter a date of birth when you registered, it will default to the date on your profile (which you can enter but hide on the Edit Profile page). If a user has not entered a date of birth, the first time they click on an lj-cut generated by these systems they will be prompted to enter a date of birth. That will then be the system-recorded age (so they shouldn't have to enter it again)."
Worse, I cannot think of anyway to verify ages that isn't draconian in nature -- and even those methods are easily spoofed. There isn't a foolproof way for websites to gather proof of anyone's age without drastic and privacy threatening measures. Credit cards? Not even. Fax paper records? Steal Dad's or Mom's ID for a few minutes. There. Is. No. Good. Way.
Greater minds than LJ can afford have been struggling with this problem for years. We still don't have a good answer.
I'm just not sure how well this plan was thought through.