Tumblr Announces Crackdown on 4.47M ‘Reblogs’ for ‘Hate Speech’

May 6th, 2020 4:32 PM

Tumblr has launched its new witch-hunt style initiative to wipe out “hate speech” on the platform.

Tumblr released a blog announcing its crackdown on offensive speech headlined Updates to how we enforce our Community Guidelines on hate speech on May 4. Tumblr claimed to be “steadfast believers in free speech” before showing its true colors — bragging about its accomplishment of “approximately 4.47M reblogs being removed from Tumblr.”

The Independent summarized how Tumblr’s method of crackdown was unique to the platform:

[T]he company said that much of the hate speech it found originated from blogs that had already been terminated. What was left, instead, were reblogs – similar to retweets on Twitter - which allow messages on one blog to be quickly shared to another.

Tumblr explained what will guide its policy:

Tumblr is a place where you can be yourself and express your opinions. Hate speech is not conducive to that. When hate speech goes unchecked, it eventually silences the voices that add kindness and value to our society. That’s not the kind of Tumblr any of us want.

Tumblr’s blog expounded on its successful roundup of dissident content, bragging that “We identified nearly a thousand blogs that were previously suspended for blatantly violating our policies against hate speech.” It then claimed that “Most of them were Nazi-related blogs.” Though it did so without citing a single example or screenshot of what it claimed qualified as hate speech.

Tumblr noted that it “wouldn’t make a change like this without considering the impact to your freedom of expression.” Tumblr claimed that it seeks to protect the free expression for people to combat offensive opinions: “We do not want to silence those who are providing educational and necessary counter-arguments to hate speech.” But the blog made no reference to protection for those to debate freely on political or cultural matters.

Tumblr suggested that “There’s no silver bullet solution, AI, or algorithm that can perfectly target hate speech.” Tumblr’s proposed solution included calling on its “dedicated Trust & Safety team” to moderate content and for its users “to report any hate speech you do see.”

With no examples provided by Tumblr, it remains to be seen how many blogs were by legitimately dangerous extremists versus how many were politically-incorrect conservatives who have been unfairly smeared as “nazis” or “white supremacists.”

Tumblr also admitted that “We reviewed our approach with a variety of outside groups and experts to make sure we have aligned with their recommended best practices,” but Tumblr did not mention who these outside groups were.

Tumblr is just the latest social media giant to go after posts for hate speech, however.

YouTube, has similarly posted reports of how many channels and videos the platform has banned and for what reason. Last September, YouTube reported it had banned over 17k channels for “hate speech.”

Facebook and Twitter have also tried their hand at removing content for hate speech. Both platforms censored organizations Choice42, a Canadian pro-life organization. Choice42 told LifeNews last October that its posts were being taken down by Facebook for violating the platform’s “Community Standards on hate speech.” Twitter also prevented Choice42 from promoting its tweets. Choice42 said Twitter considered its posts “ineligible for promotion” until all of its “anti-abortion” tweets were taken down.