New Tumblr hate speech guidelines aim to show Twitter how it’s done

28 Aug 2018

The Tumblr app logo. Image: BigTunaOnline/Shutterstock

Tumblr has announced a new set of community guidelines that will purge any content that engages in revenge porn, among other acts.

As Twitter and other social media platforms continue to figure out what exactly qualifies as hate speech following the banning of Alex Jones, Tumblr has revealed its latest community guidelines.

Scheduled to come into effect on 10 September, the new guidelines will ban, among other things, revenge porn, celebration of school shootings and hate speech.

When it comes to hate speech, Tumblr said in a blogpost that it has struck 41 words that were held in a ‘grey area’ by moderators, and its stance is noticeably different than its previous version.

The now deleted version read: “If you encounter negative speech that doesn’t rise to the level of violence or threats of violence, we encourage you to dismantle negative speech through argument rather than censorship.”

When discussing the topic of revenge porn and other non-consensual sexual images, the company cited the rapid pace of technological change with ‘deepfakes’ and the proliferation of ‘creepshots’ as reasons for updating the guidelines.

‘There’s a whole world of internet out there’

In the wake of an increasing number of mass shootings in the US, Tumblr will also ban any glorification of violence, be that to humans or animals.

Speaking in its blog, the company said the radicalisation of the internet means reinforced guidelines to be set.

“We believe in a free and open internet but we can’t ignore that the internet is being exploited by hate groups to organise, recruit and radicalise with horrifying efficiency,” it said.

It is also worth noting that in its defence of maintaining a policy of free speech under the new community guidelines, it won’t be giving any leeway to those who feel Tumblr has gone too far.

“We encourage you to share your thoughts (especially constructive feedback) in the notes,” it said. “And, if you feel that Tumblr is no longer for you, there’s a whole world of internet out there.”

In February of this year, 13 Russians with links to the Internet Research Agency were indicted by the US government, charged with trying to manipulate US social media users.

Tumblr later removed all content related to the agency.

The Tumblr app logo. Image: BigTunaOnline/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic