One of the great things about Tumblr is that people use it for just about every conceivable kind of expression. People being people, though, that means that Tumblr sometimes gets used for things that are just wrong. We are deeply committed to supporting and defending our users’ freedom of speech,…
now if you guys could do this for blogs that are blatatly racist, homophobic, transphobic, or are dummy accounts set up to harass individual folks, that would be great.
Tumblr has removed some of the blogs in question, and has stated their position:
First of all, I would like to thank you for your email. I’m sure that sounds a little strange, perhaps ingenuous, but if there’s a perception of unfair treatment, then it’s best that we be made aware of it and perhaps get to explain.
The fact is, we investigate what blogs are emailed in to us for hate speech and other issues. Having searched, it seems no one has actually emailed in about the blogs you mentioned. As you gave me blogs to look into, I did and I have suspended several of them. Of those I haven’t suspended, I have either removed content (in the case of [redacted] ) and warned the blogger or the blog itself did not seem to be using the term for hate speech or oppression. In one case, they seem to have been saving the URL to prevent others from using it. As for some of the others, their blogs did not seem to have any hateful content. While the word itself is and can be considered hate speech, there are some cases where it is not considered hate speech, such as when used by those it was used to oppress. As we don’t require ID for setting up a blog, we have no way of knowing if someone is a part of that group or not before hand and can only judge by the remainder of their actions whether or not they’re using the term in an offensive manner.
Previously, we have suspended blogs similarly only to be emailed back and told that the blogger was trying to make a point, reclaim a word, or otherwise post what would have been violating content in the context of pointing out it’s offensiveness and the nature of racism in the US. As such, we try to take a more careful hand on such cases.
Particularly in the case of ‘deathtoallwhitepeople’, I do not actually see a record for this blog. If we had suspended it, we would see the blog and see that it was suspended; I do not in this case. This would mean that the blog had been deleted, which is only done by the owner of the blog or someone with access to the blog’s information. As such, that would mean that we had no hand in the disappearance of ‘deathtoallwhitepeople’ in the first place.
I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about our process and our priorities.
In response to their email, I sent:
I am happy that you are finally taking our reactions seriously, as this is certainly a serious matter. Additionally, the list shown was a representation of the blogs that are allowed to remain, not necessarily a list of blogs that had been reported, or that needed to be deleted/removed. But I do happen to know that several of them were actually reported since my post, and I am happy to know that some of them have been removed.
However, I hope you are aware that this is indicative of a larger problem. In the past, blogs like those have been reported, and those reports were met with the “freedom of speech” excuse. Death threats have been sent, and reported en masse, each report being met with the same lack of reason. There are screenshots and emails recording this. And while this is certainly not your problem, personally, it is still a problem.
I want to you to be aware that the use of that word by anyone other than a Black person is hate speech, period. There is no reason for anyone else to use the term, ever. Any time it is used, specifically when used outside the Black/Afrolatino community, the denigration of Black people spreads, our humanity is diminished, and the wide perception of our very existence is diminished, debased, and reduced to a caricature, as it has been for far too long. There is no way it can be used and not refer to a Black person in some way. There is no way it can be used, and not be hurtful. That is the history of it, and that is the fact of it. It is abominable.
I don’t profess to speak for the entirety of Blackness, but you must understand that this is a struggle that we’ve been in for centuries. The eradication of the lackadaisical attitude of a nation is at stake, and that is why it is so important.
I realize that Tumblr is not responsible for the flood of this negativity, but every ripple begins with a single drop. Tumblr has a unique opportunity to stop this at its core — to halt the proliferation of these hateful ideas sitewide. Please consider a general announcement regarding your position against this sort of hate speech, as you did with the SOPA situation (though perhaps not as invasive), as well as a more accessible link to the Terms of Service, as most people haven’t even read them, and couldn’t find them if asked. Even a post on the staff blog would be helpful in making your position known.
Thank you again for your consideration, and for your responses and actions in this matter. Your help is appreciated by so very many people.
Again, thank you to everyone who reblogged the initial post in support of this action. Your support means more than you know. To Racialicious, thank you for your support as well. I was hesitant to send that to you, and perhaps should have done so earlier, but I am quite glad that I did. Thank you for being willing to address the situation publicly.
To those who reblogged my initial post with hate or contempt in your hearts, you have shown your true colors. We see you. We know you. We won’t forget you.
And finally, thank you to all my friends in TheBlackout. You guys are the shit. I love all of you.
Congrats to you, deliciouskaek, for mobilizing all of us to get active about this issue. We’re glad to have helped in our small way, and thanks for the update!
I’m about to write an post, as well as a guest post to a well-known external blog about this, and if need be, I will submit it to my local news organization for review, and I need for you to understand that before I proceed. This is not something you will be able to explain away or cover up. There is already a blog post that is spreading across tumblr about this, so it’s not like no one is going to hear about it. It’s already out there. Your staff has made a mistake.
You recently removed a blog titled deathtoallwhitepeople from your servers. This is understandable, and was expected, as the entire reason it was created was to point out the hypocrisy in how certain users are well-treated at the expense of others. However, you appear to have missed all of the following blogs:
These blog titles are equally reprehensible, equally offensive, and violate your Terms of Service in the same way. I can’t imagine why they are all allowed to remain.
I also need to point out that the 1st Amendment protects private citizens against governmental censorship. It does not provide protections against the actions of a private company, like yours. You have the option — the power — to do something about this, to stop such hateful terms from being used against a group of people who are being harmed and oppressed by them. You’ve already chosen to use that power, and therein lies the hypocrisy: you didn’t protect the free speech of the person or persons who started the deathtoallwhitepeople blog, or protect other people of color from the death threats they reported to you.
In doing what you have done, you let all of the people who were involved, along with anyone who is reading and reblogging the related posts, know that you care for the so-called 1st Amendment rights of white persons, but none for the rights of people of color.
I am disgusted by your actions, and ask that you treat your members the same — that you remove blogs that use the word “nigger” in their title, and do not allow anyone to use it in their URLs in the future.
I look forward to your prompt response.
Everybody, please, reblog the shit out of this.
Signal boost with commentary to follow.