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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Eqal Inc. stirs up pornography controversy over Level 26 links.


On Monday, July 27th Anthony E. Zuiker posted an article on the new Eqal Inc. Level 26 web site entitled "Introducing Marc Ecko"

The post included:

"When I met Anthony, I was so impressed by the concept of this 360-degree experience -- I had to get involved. His passion is contagious. We riffed on the idea of the book itself having the charm of a graphic novel, but the intensity of a real read. Also, since I'm such a geek for Alice in Wonderland , I figured-- let me be his Peter Newell. I went for a slightly naive style. The illustrations were inspired by the text. He would send me excerpts, and I would riff off of those."

Innocent enough. Right? Not so much according to disgruntled fans with small children. The post links directly to the blog of Marc Ecko http://www.beingmarcecko.com which at the time of the post had a post with this title:

"Here is a slideshow of some images and footage from the day I shot for Playboy Magazine."

The post does contain a picture of a woman with bare breasts among other things and it was on the front page of the linked blog at the time of the post (it is currently on page 2).

Well it turns out that some fans were less than happy and have claimed that this action by Eqal Inc. violates their own "Terms Of Use " policy.

Eqal Inc TOS:
8. Content/Activity Prohibited. The following are examples of the kind of Content that is illegal or prohibited to post on or through the EQAL Services. EQAL reserves the right to investigate and take appropriate legal action against anyone who, in EQAL's sole discretion, violates this provision, including without limitation, removing the offending Content from the EQAL Services and terminating the Membership of such violators. Prohibited Content includes, but is not limited to, Content that, in the sole discretion of EQAL:

8.4 contains nudity, excessive violence, or offensive subject matter or contains a link to an adult website;

TOS for the Level 26 web site
7. Content Prohibited. The following are examples of the kind of Content that is illegal or prohibited to upload or link to your Member account through the EQAL Service. EQAL reserves the right to investigate and take appropriate legal action against anyone who, in EQAL's sole discretion, violates this provision, including without limitation, removing the offending Content from the EQAL Service and terminating the Membership of such violators. Prohibited Content includes, but is not limited to, Content that, in the sole discretion of EQAL:
7.3. exploits people in a sexual or violent manner;
7.4. contains nudity, excessive violence, or offensive subject matter or contains a link to an adult website;

This has given rise for some to question Eqal's stance on Children's Online Privacy Protection Act

"The Act applies to websites and online services operated for commercial purposes that are either directed to children under 13 or have actual knowledge that children under 13 are providing information online."

What do you think? Leave a comment below and let us know.


  1. drats. i thought this was going to be 10 times juicier than it was. a few boobs on the internet? oh please.

  2. Tell that to the mothers who are upset by this.

  3. WTF? the whole website is promoting a book about the nastiest killer every conceived. do they think the book will not have some gratuitious violence AND sex in it?

  4. Well I guess Eqal must have anticipated this would upset some fans but just put it down to the cost of doing business. I think the problem came from the fact that what appeared to be an innocent link for children:

    "such a geek for Alice in Wonderland"

    led directly to adult content.

  5. Milo honey you just proved the mothers point, thank you very much. It also stems from the FACT that young children have revealed themselves already on the site and EQAL has yet to do anything about it when they were told.

  6. milo, the book is not linked in its entirety from a blog post. The kids won't read the details of a murder by following a link. Seeing boobs, on the other hand, is apparently very possible.

    I am most certainly not in the camp that things boobs are evil demons perverting innocent children (that's an entirely different discussion to have), but the fact of the matter is that some parents would like to keep sexual content away from their children, and that they should have the possibility to do that - if the parents checked out L26 and deemed it acceptable, stealth playboy links undermine their efforts to ensure their children don't see unsuitable content on the web.

    As said, I, personally, don't see boobs as a problem, but if parents want to keep such content away from their children, it should be made clear that they might encounter something like this, so parents can take a proactive stance.

    Not to mention that the acronym "not safe for work" exists for a reason - you wouldn't want to be on your employer's watchlist for browsing playboy content - just because you followed an EQAL link.

    In addition, in my opinion, exactly because the entire site will likely going to be a tad gruesome, this raises the question of whether EQAL can be bothered to give a shit for once and actually care about what kind of age group visits their site (not to mention COPPA compliance).

    Because, just because kids who follow serial killer websites shouldn't be surprised by boobs, doesn't mean kids should follow the serial killer content in the first place...

    iow: If you think the website is even worse, don't you think there should be some age controls even before blog posts are read?

  7. The Alice link doesn't contain nudity - just a PG-13 style image. The blog contains nudity, but the link wasn't to the blog in itself. I know that it's pretty easy to get there from the Alice post, but I don't think he was technically linking to nudity. The guy's a photographer/artist. A lot of them work with nudes, and the Playboy video was pretty tame and artistic as far as nudity goes. That's my opinion. As they say, "I can't tell you what pornography is, but I know it when I see it."

  8. Pornography is a pretty wide term ranging from "Playboy" to hard core. Now there is also "nude art" which is also a broad term.

    The community has discussed this issue in terms of pornography and that is why it was described as such in the headline.

  9. All personal feelings aside...The point really is that EQAL is not in compliance with with their own Terms of Use statement nor are they in compliance with COPPA which is a Federal Law. However it may be that they are exempt from COPPA which is debatable at best.
    The reason this all began was because a child under 13 years of age made themselves known on the L26 site which, in turn, made many people, mostly parents who frequent the site, VERY nervous. One of said parents mentioned the child to an EQAL representitive of the L26 site and was told that kids will be kids and that that is the way of life.
    Look I can understand those of you who don't have children not thinking this a big deal but to those of us who DO have children, we kind of expect companies to keep their word, when it concerns children's well being.

  10. The actual link posted doesn't direct to porn (as anon above noted;) one has to further explore Marc Eckō's blog to find the image in question.

    Is the image PG-13? No. It is clearly a depiction of nudity in a sexual context. It is PG.

  11. Oh brother. The "some fans" who are complaining about it shouldn't be going anywhere near Level 26 content with young kids around (it's about a serial killer for f's sake). Bare breasts in this type of context in a movie would get a PG-13 rating at the most. LG15 has always been PG-13. Any "fan" who is complaining needs to wake up and become a parent. Any child under 13 should be supervised if they are online, and shouldn't be in the room if their "parent" is looking at PG-13 material. If the kids are over 13, believe me, they've seen worse.

    The statement "The post does contain a picture of a woman with bear breasts among other things...", is just sensationalism and inferring something that isn't true. It's some BARE breasts, and that's it. It's artistically done, and as a woman I wasn't offended by it at all. It isn't pornography, it's art. What a telling commentary on our society that the female body is more offensive than the story/videos of a serial killer.

  12. @the second to previous anonymous: You are incorrect. The very first link in the post, before the Alice quote and link, goes directly to his blog.
    The first page ends with a not-quite-child-friendly Alice, and the second page begins with Playboy boobs.

    As said - I don't have anything against it, but I do understand that parents may want to control what kind of imagery their children are subjected to on the web - and, as said, it's not just children, but also any adult not in the privacy of his own home.

    No one faults the photographer for working with nude models.

    The problem in this case is a certain degree of misrepresentation of what is to be expected, in my eyes:
    "I want to introduce you to Marc Ecko, the visionary who jumped on board to art-direct this project. Not only did he design the amazing t-shirts we gave out at Comic-Con -- he also drew twenty illustrations inside the book by hand. His drawings are incredible [...]"
    The post clearly introduces him as an illustrator, and puts the main emphasis on praising his drawing skills. It then links to his blog, which, contrary to what one might expect, doesn't show off t-shirt designs and other innocent illustrations, but sexualized Alice and Playboy pictures.

    Not only that, but the Alice link is actually entirely irrelevant - the link purely exists because it was in the quoted portion on the original blog. There is no reason, content-wise, that the site has to link to Alice in the first place. It's purely for the sake of keeping the quotation as it was on the blog.

    I believe the main issue here is less the nudity, and more the fact that there was no warning for it. A simple "Warning: Pictures on this site may be NSFW." would have made things a lot better.

    One thing to ponder: All of this is just taking the current state of the site into account.
    Who says the first post on that blog tomorrow won't be a fetish photo shoot?
    Given the content of the blog, I don't think we can trust the link to nudity will stay as indirect as it is indefinitely. The time will come when the first post on the site will include nudity - and the same link will still point to it.

  13. "The post does contain a picture of a woman with bear breasts"

    That is factual. Whether it is art or porn is up to the reader to decide for them self if they choose to research the pictures that were posted.

  14. Nice truncation of the statement mm.

    I'm sure the "among other things" was referring to legs, arms etc. right?

    Much ado about nothing. It's been awhile since the last imagined scandal, but this blog needs it's drama fix.

  15. @kay: A factual statement about the content of the post in question is hardly sensationalism. While I agree with you in so far as that I, personally, don't think the female body is a child-perverting device of doom, the fact of the matter is that parents should have the option to moderate what their children look at. They can't do that if the content is misrepresented.

    In addition, you are defeating your own argument: You say "Any child under 13 [...] shouldn't be in the room if their 'parent' is looking at PG-13 material."

    ...how is the parent supposed to know they're about to look at PG-13 content, if it's not marked as such?
    "Hey, check out my cool illustrator friend" hardly sounds like "send out your kids, boobs ahead".

    We may not agree with parents' decision to treat any and all depictions of naked people as mind-warping tools of satan, but I believe especially if you insist kids under 13 shouldn't even be near PG-13 content (ironic, actually, given the "PG" part), then you can agree that content should be marked as what it is, in order to allow parents to take such precautions in advance. And the fact of the matter is, that post was linking to a blog which regularly features depictions of women with exposed breasts.

    It's not a discussion about how bad breasts are for children. It's a discussion about the ability of parents to assess web content, and EQAL's lack of support in that.

  16. "among other things"

    - there were other things in the post beside bear breasts. Again we left it to the reader to research on their own and make up their own mind about the content.

    The fact that there was an active community discussion about this post is what promoted it. It is not up to us to decide if it is pornography or art. We leave that up to you.

  17. There is an easy fix for this, one which many a website has implemented because they have a broad user base and little to no control over what people do on it. Many a site put up a little warning when you are leaving their site, to let you know that they are not responsible for the content of the outside website. Considering that EQAL wants their sites to be pseudo social networking sites, perhaps something like that would be a good idea.

    Also, to another person's point, and I really don't want this to become a thing, but generally speaking, nudity = an R rating. Right about now someone is yelling "There was a boob shot in Titanic."

    Yes, there was, but that was the exception to the rule. Terminator Salvation a bloody robot killing gore feast filmed to be an R rated movie was able to garner a PG-13 rating by removing one shot of a guy getting killed with a screwdriver and a boob shot of Moon Bloodgood, by the way, I've seen them and they are fantastic.

  18. Renegade said:
    "...how is the parent supposed to know they're about to look at PG-13 content, if it's not marked as such?
    "Hey, check out my cool illustrator friend" hardly sounds like "send out your kids, boobs ahead"."

    Any parent who believes that Level 26 and associated content is anything less than PG13 and suitable for their kids has exposed their kids to a lot worse than some bare breasts. I bet my right boob on it.

    Hell, LG15 wasn't suitable for kids under 13 due to violence alone. I'm having a tough time recalling any sort of uproar about the LG15 violent videos pertaining to young mothers and their kids.

    Probably the same type of people who would be offended by a woman breastfeeding in view while they put rifles in their toddler's hands at target practice.

  19. This goes WAY beyond the Marc Ecko blog. This goes to the point where a child under the age of 13 (11 to be exact) has admitted to accessing these sites (that the admin himself said is NOT for children) and posing as an 18 yr old adult.

    The terms of use are very specific in what they say yet they are being ignored and the company is turning its back to all this. Now granted Harpers Island was bad enough but now you have serial killers and links to blogs that have depictions of the female body on it (from playboy none the less). Now I deem the pictures as artistic in nature but that does not mean that I would enjoy my 10 yr old daughter to view them.

    I myself have artistic semi-nude photographs online but they are not viewable by anyone under the age of 18 AND they can't even be viewed without being a friend of mine on a certain photography website.

    My complaint is that they do not adhere to their own damn set of rules. No matter how nice i think the children in question are, I still don't feel EQAL should just let it slide since they let it go for so long. Now these kids are like "hey, they didn't do it yet so they won't ever do it" kind of like how they handle their spam and other inappropriate activities in the forums of some of their sites!

  20. @kay: You can bet your boobs all you want, but it's still an unproven generalization.
    Besides, you should know the American way of life: Cutting people's head off with a chain saw is okay, but if you cut the bra strap, it's unsuitable for children >_>

    I agree with you that seeing nudity as harmful to children is bogus at the least. But that's not the point. Parents have the right to moderate what their children see, and you can't, on one hand, expect to do that, to the point that you yourself complain about EQAL's series being unsuitable because of violence, and, on the other hand, roll your eyes when parents are upset that the content isn't marked appropriately.

    Besides, so far, there is nothing too bad visible on the L26 page - and the blog post in question was most definitely suitable for children.

  21. It's the internet.

    It isn't EQAL's job to police and somehow verify a user's age.

    It's a PARENT'S obligation.

    If you're worried about what your kids are seeing online, SUPERVISE them.

  22. Kay honey, you are the only one here I see creating any drama...

    We get it, you think BOOBS are AWESOME! But as several others have stated this is not REALLY about the BOOBS. Its about the lack of warning. It's also MAINLY about EQAL not listening...maybe you should too.

  23. I don't even want them to go around checkin ID's... and I ask is that when they know of a child under the age that has lied to get on the site then do as they state in their Terms of Use..

    What the hell is it there for if they aren't going to enforce it?

  24. That last anon post was me, hit the wrong button.

    Anyway, @renegade, speaking of generalizations, it is not "the American way of life". Some puritans with mixed morals do not represent everyone.

    I agree that "Parents have the right to moderate what their children see". Please show me an example of where Level 26 and associated content has been targeted towards children. This book and associated content is not suitable for children, period.

  25. Hell I like boobs/nudity/etc but please warn me with something if you are going to post a link that I may potentially click and possibly have my children standing around!

  26. Actually Kay IF EQAL is in compliance with COPPA, yes it is their job to police their site...just sayin'.

  27. @Kay - that is exactly what i mean. Its not geared towards children and EQAL knows this (the admin even said it to me in a private message)yet when they know about an 11 yr old on the site, they don't bother enforcing anything. They chalked it up to OH WELL, its going to happen and we could give two shits about it because we have more important things to worry about, but we put that little "ToU" out there just incase we should have a parent come bitch to us about it cuz their darling child had nightmares or saw something inappropriate."

  28. @the internet-police anon: Actually, it is.
    Very much so.
    You wouldn't believe how much.

    @kay: Do you see the book online, the pages flashed to website viewers? Do you see videos jumping out at blog readers, forcing you to watch unsuitable content?
    That blog post is clean, and there is nothing wrong with reading it in the presence of children. Don't try to turn the general subject of a book into the reason why a behind-the-scenes post on a website shouldn't have to mark its content.

    As for "generalizations" - it's not just a question of singular puritans; also of wide-ranging regulations and high-profile cases.

  29. Anonymous said...

    Kay honey, you are the only one here I see creating any drama...

    We get it, you think BOOBS are AWESOME! But as several others have stated this is not REALLY about the BOOBS. Its about the lack of warning. It's also MAINLY about EQAL not listening...maybe you should too.

    The link is in a blog post on a site promoting a book/associated content about a serial killer. Warning? You'd think the words "serial killer" would be more than enough warning to either keep the kids off or keep your net time to when the kids are in bed.

    Although I do think my boobs are awesome tyvm, I agree with you that this isn't all about boobs. What it is about is parental irresponsibility and the audacity of claiming "we need a warning" when the entire subject matter is not for children. As a parent, I think it is ridiculous that the onus is being put on EQAL for policing the ages of their users.

    Boo hoo, EQAL isn't listening. I don't blame them in the least. These little created dramas should just be static to them by now.

  30. Might I point out the links I just posted, kay?
    It is their responsibility by law anyway. They just don't give a shit.

  31. OMG If I didn't know better I would say that you work for EQAL, Kay.

    Sweetie you are the only one turning this into a drama. But please keep it up, because this better drama than what I usually see on the net!

  32. I wish I could edit my post...apparently, two of those laws aren't in effect anymore. COPPA still very much is, though.

    Besides, as stated before, the site itself, for the moment, is not harmful to minors. The blog section consists solely of behind the scenes stuff. No serial killing going on there.

    I don't see anything irresponsible about reading production blogs in the presence of children.

  33. Perhaps what is most remarkable is that the post in question depicts a "...woman with bear [sic] breasts...". This finding deserves a report to a medical journal! And I'd like to know if the "bear breasts" were from black, grizzly, polar, panda, or koala bears. Nature is so mysterious...

  34. @renegade...

    Sure did:

    Link 1:
    Child Online Protection Act:
    "The United States federal courts have ruled that the law violates the constitutional protection of free speech, and therefore have blocked it from taking effect. As of 2009, the law remains unconstitutional and unenforced."

    Link 2:
    "The act, effective April 21, 2000, applies to the online collection of personal information by persons or entities under U.S. jurisdiction from children under 13 years of age."

    This isn't even applicable in this situation.

    Link 3:
    The only law that you could possibly attempt to cite here that would be applicable. However, the law refers to specific knowledge of a user's age, and is not applicable when a user misrepresents their age. Also, in 1997 the U.S. Supreme Court partially overturned the law.

    Did you bother to read anything about these laws, or did you just wiki, cut and paste?

  35. I have no problems with non-sexual nudity. However, this case seems to be sexual.

  36. "Boo hoo, EQAL isn't listening. I don't blame them in the least. These little created dramas should just be static to them by now."

    We have been around for a while and watched generation after generation leave Eqal created ventures. Why? In the end it usually comes down to the fact that they feel Eqal does not listen to them. Pretty ironic when you consider Eqal's pitch to investors.

    Given that there are easy fixes here it is surprising that Eqal does not just take the easy option. Once again they drill their head into the sand and pretend not to see.

    It is easy to make a mistake on the net and link to something you did not intend. We don't think anyone faults them for that. What is concerning is that they seem to feel they live in a world where they do not need to listen to their fan base. Perhaps that is why they have to keep reinventing that fan base as older users just get up and walk away.

  37. Perfectly stated MM!

    Look, we can sit here and throw wit and wiki at each other (I include myself), to validate our beliefs. But the only solution to this is, will EQAL step up to the plate and acknowledge this issue or will they continue to ignore the people who simply want to be heard? Only time will tell.

    I expect the worst, hope for the best.

    ...and Kay I really hope you DON'T work for EQAL.

  38. @modelmotion

    I've been around since the beginning.

    I've also been online since BBS's in the early 90s.

    You're describing the nature of all internet communities. Users come, users go. Sometimes there is a small core group of vets that sticks around until they don't anymore.

    It's EQAL now, not LG15. The company is working on other things. They've diversified their content. And contrary to what anyone thinks, NO ONE else is responsible for that which you expose your kids.

  39. I'm kinda disappointed. I wanted to see some bear breast and all I got was human ones.

  40. Kay - don't bother arguing with Renegade. He doesn't care what you say - he will only overwhelm you with paragraph after paragraph of content that really doesn't disagree but gives him something to do. Most folks agree with you - it's not that bad. But yeah, EQAL could post a comment somewhere saying that this content - serial killers and "BARE" breasts - are not for kids.

    Also, thanks CtrlAD for finally pointing out clearly that we have not seen a single bear breast. Bear parents were clearly upset about this but unable to complain without opposable thumbs.

  41. They don't opposable thumbs but they do have a right to bear arms.
    (arh arh)

  42. "It's EQAL now, not LG15."

    The reality is that we are now seeing the same problems with every Eqal venture. They have not learned from the damage they did to their LG15 franchise and continue to make the same choices. The choice is pretending that issues do not exist and sticking their head in the sand.

    So yea, it would appear that Eqal has inherited the same corporate culture... one that ignores anything that does not fit their tidy view of the world. That is a dangerous path to follow and one would think that with all their "community expertise" that they would have learned. But alas, no.

  43. Seriously? I am just blown away by this... the forums alone should make parents want to keep their kids away from L26. They are raunchy and debauched, and people seem to like it that way. And nobody seems to care that AZ has a potty mouth. It's fine for him to swear up a storm, but Heaven forbid he link to an OUTSIDE site that has artistic nudity? Let's all mob together and lynch him for such behaviour. Also, I don't see how Kay is the "only one creating drama" when all she is doing is expressing a differing opinion to this blog. And for the record, my own mother would have had no trouble with me seeing bare breasts or reading about serial kilers or any of that stuff because she wanted me to grow up with an open mind, not a closed one.

  44. We think the point being made here is that some parents want to control what their offspring see and that the post in question did not give "fair warning" that it was linking to a web site with "adult material".

    Even after they were informed about this situation Eqal made no attempt to change the post which could have been done with very little effort.

    The fact that the site has humans well under the age of 13 participating in a social network with Eqal's full knowledge seems to just raise even more concernts.

  45. I remember back when I had to steal my dad's playboys to see a breast. Ah, those were the days.
    Breast were so much nicer back then.


  46. fact of the matter is they make rules and don't enforce them. If they would enforce them then I see no harm in anything that goes on in the forums.. potty mouth, links to artistic nudity, etc...

  47. COPPA keeps getting quoted here. I don't get it. You have to enter your age to even sign up at level26.com. If kids are lying about their age, EQAL can't do anything about it -- they can't read minds. They also can't take the word of some other random user who tells them that someone is underage. EQAL has no idea who either of you are. COPPA applies to websites that are either directed to children under 13 or have actual knowledge that children under 13 are providing information online. This Act does not apply to level26.com at all.

  48. so what do you say if the underage user comes out and says he is 10yrs old, posts pictures of a young looking child on his profile, and states that he lied to get on the site!

  49. The point here is that if a company does not at least make an attempt to act responsibly then it just leads to external parties creating laws that even further curtail freedoms.

    Acting responsibly is all people are asking for here from what we have read. It is probably in everyones best interest that Eqal follows that path especially when younger humans are involved.

    We would have expected that Eqal would have learned that lesson by now.

  50. as said earlier, its up to parents to control a child's internet usage, and to monitor whether they lie about their age online.

    don't blame EQAL is some underage person is lying about their age. i've taken EQAL to task many times, but I just don't understand the drama this time.

    level26 is adult content through and through.

    And the content is only going to get raunchier. as an lg15today post last week noted, zuiker is gonna have a Suicide Girls shoot just for the show at some point (SG is basically emo women porn, not sure if they do nudity, but it is edgy sexual content.) and i recall zuiker talking about possibly having snuff film footage when the book idea was first mentioned in the press.

    So, when the level 26 killer slices off some woman's boob and eats it, or whatever twisted thing happens as they always do in this genre, don't say you weren't warned.

  51. and btw, who is this 11 year old? the site only has 239 members so far!! if you know him, counsel him to get off the site.

    they don't serve kids meals at strip clubs for a reason.

  52. good question milowent.
    also, where is this discussion from outraged mothers?

  53. "and btw, who is this 11 year old? the site only has 239 members so far!! if you know him, counsel him to get off the site. "

    From our understanding Eqal is fully aware of the situation and has chosen not to take any action.

  54. Let me see if I get this straight. It's ok for your website to have a link to a site that shows "adult content" as long as you warn them that it may contain a link to adult content.

  55. Everyone would probably agree that the bulk of the responsibility for monitoring the actions of younger humans is up to parental units. That assumption has never been questioned here.

    What has been questioned is Eqals response to issues of concern raised within the community.

    Web site creators share in the responsibility for creating an internet we can all enjoy within the limits of our personal value system. Eqal has a TOS for that very purpose. The concern raised here is that Eqal is in violation of its own TOS and has refused to do anything to alleviate the concerns of those who have raised these issues with them.

  56. "Let me see if I get this straight. It's ok for your website to have a link to a site that shows "adult content" as long as you warn them that it may contain a link to adult content."

    In this case the link was to an external web site that contained adult content. In this case it appears that a warning that such content existed on the linked web site would have been appreciated by at least some of site membership.

  57. this reminds me of the obama birth certificate controversy. if you have a legitimate beef against obama, don't waste your time on crazy stuff like that.

    similarly, railing against the perceived failure of eqal to forcibly exclude the single 11 year old male member from the level26.com website, so that he cannot click on a link he could click on anyway if he didn't log in, which will bring him to a site that might have artistic boobs on it from time to time (and in the archives), is not worth our time.

    EQAL's primary issues of concern right now, in addition to running its for-profit websites, should be better promoting its TSIY shows, getting TSIY 2.0 going ASAP if its going to happen (or announcing what's up if it isn't), upgrading the old lg15.com forums and stuff assuming they still plan to use them, etc. etc. i am sure people could name others.

  58. milowent is riled up tonight. maybe he doesn't like being called "honey"

  59. Well clearly the fact that Eqal does not listen to feedback from concerned members of the community means that Barack is an illegitimate President of the USA. We get that. Next you will be expecting us to believe that the "freedom couch" is a fiction.

  60. YES cuz money is more important then moral values!

  61. Actually acting irresponsibly does not make good money sense either. The people who best protect a community are they community them self but they cannot do it alone if Eqal does not live up to its side of the equation. Does it really cost them to sit down with those who are concerned and work out a simple solution that works for everyone?

  62. simple solution, make the site a LOG-ON site to view any content and if you full well know of a person under your age restriction on the site then do what you say in your TOS! easy as that!

  63. Anonymous said...

    also, where is this discussion from outraged mothers?

    -or has modelmotion pulled a "Junior" while talking to the mirror?

  64. This discussion was all in the chat the other night and YES, i'm one of the mothers! ModelMotion isn't writing anything that wasn't already previously discussed in chat!

  65. @kay: Did you bother to read my post? I said I would have edited the previous one if I could.

    I don't know on what grounds you dismiss COPPA, because it actually is the only one applicable - so much for asking me if I read them.

    EQAL has had users younger than 13 since LG15 days, and the current controversy was sparked by an 11 year old. EQAL runs social networks, so it very much collects personal information.
    How you determine from that that COPPA isn't applicable is a mystery to me.

    The same answer goes for the anonymous claiming COPPA isn't applicable.

    As for the question where the outraged mothers are, that would be chat and Twitter.

    I also love how all the "it's not EQAL's responsibility!!!" posters happily ignore the ToS excerpts posted.
    Given the reaction of some members of the community, it is quite obvious that at least some people do indeed consider the content on Marc Ecko's blog "adult".
    As such, at least in the opinion of some people, the L26 blog post qualifies for the "linking to an adult website" clause of the TOS.

    In other words: Independent from any laws or perceived responsibilities of parents, EQAL's content violates its own Terms of Service. That is a major part of this issue.

  66. TOS says they MAY, at their discretion, delete the account of someone under 13, not that they will. Also, AZ is a member, not EQAL. It also states EQAL is NOT resonspible for content posted by members, and if you feel content violates the TOS you need to click the "report abuse" link at the bottom of the page. The key word in all of the TOU is "sole discretion". That alone gives them the right to ignore anything they don't deem to be what readers deem it to be.

  67. I am not talking about account deletion.
    Read the quotes I directly referenced. They talk about prohibited content.

    And trying to write AZ off as a mere member is a cop-out at best.
    Yes, I am sure the author of the book that site is about is just another member with no special rights.

  68. Eqal is fully aware of the situation.

    Eqal also has the right as a public company to make their own decision. However when a company does not act responsibly it often finds that it would have been a wiser choice to listen to their stakeholders.... in this case that would be the user base for the web site. None of us gains from this sort of behavior when it is easy to avoid.

  69. you know what.. you're right! let forget about EQAL and just go after the kid himself under Federal Wire Tap Laws! Yes lets show this 11 yr old what really happens when you lie! Sounds completely fair to me! ((sarcasm))

  70. There are so many real issues in life to worry/complain about.
    This entire argument is plain ol' stupid

  71. YES plain ol' stupid till you have someone telling you that the child in question has been kidnapped because he showed too much info in some of his youtube videos that he links to EQAL sites basically showing his house and location or after they get more information about the child because he doesn't understand that there really are BAD PEOPLE on the internet! YES this debate is plain ol' stupid if you don't give a rats ass about anything!

  72. so now a random boob is leading to some one being kidnapped? sounds like an old lg15 episode.

  73. YES lets only worry about our own fucking vain existence.. who cares about the children online as long as you can sleep well at night knowing you back a damn site that could careless about fucking morals!

    Yeah yeah, the parents should keep the kid off sites like that, but whos to say that the sites can't help out a little bit by policing it for peoples blatant disregard for rules!

    To those that feel its not your job to worry about children on the internet.. I hope someday you get caught talking to someone pretending to be older then get your door bashed in by the cops who tracked your IP for sending shit to a minor!

  74. I am not quite sure I understand your argument...are you saying we should wait until after kids get hurt before we complain?

    Like, "I don't care that this car has no seatbelt, I'll complain when my kid flew out the front window and died on the highway"?

    Do the words "prevention" or "care" mean anything to you?

    The parents have a valid right to wonder and worry about what their kids see on the web. I don't see how requesting a simple warning on links that lead to potentially unsuitable material is such a horrible idea to some people here.

    "a post he made on his blog about Level 26"
    "a post he made on his blog (NSFW) about Level 26"
    ...it's six letters more. wtf is the issue?

  75. @renegade

    I used the links you provided. If you got your COPAs and your COPPAs confused, I won't apologize for responding to your links in the order they were presented.

    As for your assertion that The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is applicable, I suggest you visit coppa.org and read. This Act is NOT applicable here, as it applies "if you operate a commercial Web site or an online service directed to children under 13 that collects personal information from children, or if you operate a general audience Web site and have actual knowledge that you are collecting personal information from children".

    This Act has NOTHING to do with "adult" site content and ESPECIALLY not with links to other sites showing women's breasts. It has to do with gathering personal information from minors.

    EQAL is not gathering personal information from minors on level26.com, knowingly or otherwise.

    As for the assertions that there is an 11 year old at the site, (if he isn't indeed a 45 year old web troller) it is obvious that he has no parental supervision when he is online. I guarantee you he's seen actual hardcore porn.

  76. "EQAL is not gathering personal information from minors on level26.com, knowingly or otherwise."

    Hugh? Care to explain that one? Eqals site runs off a data base that does nothing but collect information on ALL members and some of them are definitely younger humans.

  77. This has gone past the point of ridiculousness now.

    Now we have swearing, vehement anon's spewing their vitriol against EQAL, practically accusing them of creating an environment conducive to child abductions and future episodes of Dateline.

    If the ignorance being shown here, coupled with the lack of parental responsibility wasn't such a real and disgusting social commentary, maybe I could laugh at it.


    EQAL has complied with COPPA. Period. Where the hell are these "kids'" parents? Why is there so little indignation directed to the parents in this thread?

    EQAL is not the parent here. I am my child's parent. I control what he does online and what he sees when I am online. I guess by the responses of supposed "parents" on this thread, I am alone in understanding that responsibility.

    Scary stuff.

  78. guys, thanks for checking out my pics on my friend marc's site! we had a GREAT time on that photoshoot and i hope you all like them!!!

    xo shannon

  79. Kay,

    Most of the parental units that have posted here have agreed that they bear the bulk of the responsibility in monitoring the behavior of their young humans. However, that does not mean Eqal should not have a role in the process if there are clear opportunities for them to help out. It is Eqals refusal to even acknowledge the issue that has led to this long debate.

    Perhaps Eqal should take a lesson from Barack and just sit down an listen to the concerns of those parties that have an interest. That way some simple solutions can be formulated and it might make life easier for all involved.

  80. hai Shannon James.

    your photoshoot wuz ok i guess. nuthin lyk the stuff im used 2 looking at. we didnt even get 2 c evrythng + u wernt fukking ne1. kinda boring.

    my parents rnt here. they got me a webcam + evrything 4 my room. wanna cam? if not ill just play my ps3. my parents got me all the games rated mature. i can fuk a whore in 1 of them. think ill do that instead.


  81. The drama sure gets old.

  82. lol eqal should just require everyone to enter a credit card like any other porn site by the reaction of people.

    wonder how many of the 'adults' would be left out because of there bad credit.

  83. okay so the parents obviously are not involved which is a shame in itself but how do you feel speaking about adult content knowing a child is in your presence (say in a chat room)? Do you ignore the fact, censor yourself, or go about what you are doing and feel semi guilty that you are contributing to the corruption of minors??? I'm not saying you should be doing one or all or none of these.. i'm just trying to get a feel for what one would do in that given situation.

  84. P.S. Anon (about the credit cards)
    You don't have to have a good credit score to get your hands on a credit card. You can get prepaid cards w/ the worst credit and still use it just like any other credit card. I'm sure if an 11yr old could get their hands on one of those, they would get away with that too! LOL

  85. you know what, its not even a debate of who should do what and who did what wrong.. at this rate its to the point where I say to myself.... someone has to do something, I mean even if the parents don't care SOMEONE has to care atleast a little bit that this child is viewing potentially explicit material.

    I mean even if he is hiding it from his parents (which i'm sure is not the case) would you want people to just sit back and do nothing?

    WAIT, i remember a conversation with him one day where he said his father had "THE TALK" with him and I asked him if he meant the sex talk and he said NO, the talk about being safe on the internet and not talking to strangers.. Maybe his parents really are oblivious to what he is doing online!?

  86. One can only hope that Eqal will care.....

    ...come on Miles, Greg and Amanda... show that you actually do listen.

  87. @kay:
    from coppa.org, as directed:

    Who Must Comply

    If you operate a commercial Web site or an online service directed to children under 13 that collects personal information from children or if you operate a general audience Web site and have actual knowledge that you are collecting personal information from children, you must comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

    Personal Information

    The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and Rule apply to individually identifiable information about a child that is collected online, such as full name, home address, email address, telephone number or any other information that would allow someone to identify or contact the child. The Act and Rule also cover other types of information -- for example, hobbies, interests and information collected through cookies or other types of tracking mechanisms -- when they are tied to individually identifiable information.

    EQAL's software uses the child's e-mail address as a login, so it doesn't fall under the one-time-use clause, the personal information saved on profiles is tied to that e-mail address, so that is applicable as well, and EQAL very much solicits you to enter your real name, quote:
    Why do I need to enter my real identity if I intend to join with a mask?
    We intend to build features that will help you connect to friends on other networks, but in order to do so we need your real name. You aren't obligated to enter any information you don't feel comfortable revealing, but just so it's clear to you, your Real Identity is never revealed if you joined with a mask.

    So....would you like to try again, or just accept that COPPA is applicable?

    *shrugs* Then again, let's just ask those who built the software in the first place...

    Why do I need to enter my age when I join the site?
    For COPPA compliance, to guarantee you are over 13.

    But yeah, COPPA is totally not applicable. Absolutely, clearly, 100% not. *rolls eyes*

    As for how much they are in compliance - I wouldn't consider a tiny, tiny link to the privacy policy under the sign up form "clear and prominent". Of course, "A link in small print at the bottom of the page -- or a link that is indistinguishable from other links on your site -- is not considered clear and prominent. - so lg15.com isn't in compliance, either. How surprising.

    You can also show me where in EQAL's privacy policy EQAL has
    - "The name and contact information (address, telephone number and email address) of all operators collecting or maintaining children's personal information through the Web site [...]"
    - A part that says "That the parent has the option to agree to the collection and use of the child's information without consenting to the disclosure of the information to third parties."
    - "That the operator may not require a child to disclose more information than is reasonably necessary to participate in an activity as a condition of participation." (As my own lg15.com account proves, neither a real name nor a correct birth date are necessary to participate. Yet there is no option to register without providing either.)
    - "That the parent can review the child's personal information, ask to have it deleted and refuse to allow any further collection or use of the child's information. The notice also must state the procedures for the parent to follow."

    So. Do you want to tell us again just how little COPPA is applicable and how much EQAL is in compliance anyway?

  88. The way i see it the views here, besides renegades. Are slander and pointless.

  89. i wonder how many of you who are so upset have complained to the FTC about this if its so bad. not one of you i bet.

  90. Let's not use legal terms like slander, especially when used incorrectly. Legal words carry weight and have very specific meanings that have no place in the comment section of an entertainment blog.

  91. i believe Seth's comment is alienation of affections. because he is trying to alienate the affections of eqal for the commenters on this thread.

    in other news, the FTC has dispatched 43 agents to surf the forums of level26.com for semi-nude pictures of janet jackson which may or may not have been viewed by a 11 year old who has watched "girl tied up" ten thousand times.

  92. It is fallacious to equate the general concept of labeling content as what it is and allowing parents to moderate what their children see online with the question of whether or not boobs pervert the minds of children.

    And it's hilariously hypocritical that the same people who insist that what children see online should be moderated in general, are the same ones who violently argue against marking unsuitable content on the site, and try to ridicule the discussion.

    I've mentioned this in chat before: EQAL has proven for months on HG that they are very capable of having a splash page in front of the real page. It would not be difficult for them to create one on Level 26 that says "The website you're about to enter contains material that might be unsuitable for viewing by minors.".
    Especially if you consider the entire site to not be child friendly, you should be for this kind of marking.

    Not everyone knows ahead of time what to expect of a website he never visited before. The assumption that parents know to send their children out because of the domain "level26.com" alone is baseless. You can't judge content until you see it. Unless the provider already tells you what kind of content to expect.

    In addition, judging this website's audience from an "EQAL" point of view is unrealistic as well. Depending on how popular or marketed the book becomes, the URL will pop up all over the place, in all kinds of different ways in all kinds of different media. To expect every person happening upon the site to have the same level of information about what it is and what to expect of it as we do, is unrealistic - take harrypotter.com. One might expect it to be a general community or information website for the Harry Potter series of books. Fuck no - it's owned by Warner Brothers. It's about the movies.

    And random URL like "level26.com" doesn't tell the user what content to expect behind it. To say "parents shouldn't open it in the presence of their children anyway" requires an amount of previous knowledge on the parents' part that you can neither expect nor assume.

    And, to be frank, given that there exist rating systems for movies and video games all over the world for this exact purpose, as well as time-slot regulations as to what can be shown when on TV, I find it rather ridiculous to suddenly expect precognitive abilties from parents, just because it's the internet.

    Marking content on the web doesn't absolve parents from having to watch out for their children. It makes it easier for them.

  93. Hey everyone,

    I am so sorry that it has taken us a bit to respond to this. I personally have been traveling non-stop and apologize for the delayed response. We want to assure people that we are sorry that the link in question went to inappropriate images. Level 26 is a site intended for a 13 and over audience and will have some adult themed content, but we won't be posting nudity on the site (if we ever do, it will be gated and with clear warnings). Our big mistake was that we didn't link directly to the blog post on Marc Ecko's site and instead just linked to his blog in general. Marc Ecko is a well-respected designer running a billion dollar company, so we did not in any way think we were linking to an inappropriate adult site. That being said, we should have just linked directly to his blog post because we don't control what he posts on the main page. Our policy going forward will be to link directly to the blog post to make sure this doesn't happen and to give warning if we think the blog in question contains other adult-themed material. Sorry for any harm we caused. As a new father, I understand and appreciate how you feel and apologize.



  94. As I generally view EQAL as Shameless Low Talent Hucksters I would love to hammer them on this.

    No can do. It's up to parent and besides I seriously doubt that they would intentionally link to offensive material, that's not their style. End of story.

    They get a pass on this one. This time. Now about that Shiny Crappy Phorum. I find THAT offensive to the phans, no matter what age they are.


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