On Monday, Tumblr announced an amendment to its hate speech policy, announcing on its blog that it would begin to cut down on the scope of posts deemed hate speech by deleting all terminated content reblogging.
Tumblr claims it actively condemns Nazi speech and other white nationalist movements, which it claims would still be promoted by reblogs on its website even after the initial article was deleted for breaching its hate speech policies.
“Some of you have called on us to re-evaluate further how we deal with hate speech, particularly hate speech by Nazis or other white supremacist groups. Today we let you know we’ve heard you, and we’re taking more steps, “writes Tumblr, now owned by WordPress founder Automattic.
“From our own study, and through your helpful comments, we find that most of the recent hate speech came from blogs that have already been completed already. Though their original posts were removed upon termination of the blog, in reblogs the content of those posts still lived on.
Tumblr says that while not all reblogs reinforced the message and some were in fact committed to debunking it or arguing against it, but that the reblogs “rarely included the kind of counter-speech that helps to hold racist rhetoric in check.”
Now, Tumblr says it’s going to go through finished posts, concentrating on posts propagating Nazi ideologies and other white nationalist views, to get back on track. Tumblr claims it deleted 4.47 million reblogs as part of this process in the last week alone. “Tomorrow, we will review all blogs suspended for hate speech, and consider removing mass reblogs when necessary,” reads the post.
Tumblr says it recognizes the impact this may have on claims related to educational and social justice. “We should not be making such a move without knowing the effect on your freedom of speech. We don’t want to silence those who provide the necessary, informative counter-arguments to hate speech, “reads the blog. Tumblr notes that it has checked its strategy with a number of outside organisations to “make sure we’ve matched with their best practices.”
“There’s no magic bullet solution, AI or algorithm that can counter hate speech perfectly. That’s why we have a dedicated Trust & Safety team, and why we’ve got an simple way to report any hate speech you see, “says the organization.
Tumblr’s approach to moderation has landed in the past with his group in hot water, most famously when the site banned all types of pornography and other types of adult content when Verizon still owned it. The site experienced a sharp drop in web traffic as large numbers of users ditched the website. Automattic extended the ban in August of last year when it purchased Tumblr.