Hate speech and other kinds of hateful conduct have become a bigger and bigger part of everyday life on the internet, and we've seen many different social platforms coming up with ways to tackle the issue. Now, Tumblr is taking steps of its own to combat the presence of such content on its platform.
Unlike the complex studies and algorithms done by companies such as Twitter, Tumblr is simply making some tweaks to its community guidelines to further emphasize which kind of content isn't allowed on the platform. The changes target three categories: hate speech, violent content, and sexual harassment.
Regarding hate speech, the social network simply removed one line, which may have created some doubt as to how hateful one comment can be before warranting a report. The sentence suggested that users only report content which was "especially heinous", but the company is taking a firmer stance now:
Don’t encourage violence or hatred. Don’t post content for the purpose of promoting or inciting the hatred of, or dehumanizing, individuals or groups based on race, ethnic or national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, disability or disease. If you encounter content that violates our hate speech policies, please report it.
Keep in mind that a post might be mean, tasteless, or offensive without necessarily encouraging violence or hatred. In cases like that, you can always block the person who made the post—or, if you’re up for it, you can express your concerns to them directly, or use Tumblr to speak up, challenge ideas, raise awareness or generate discussion and debate.
In the wake of the mass shooting that took place at the Madden Tournament in Jacksonville over the weekend, Tumblr is also making changes to how violent content can be posted on the platform. The guidelines now discourage speech that includes threats of violence in any form, gore, mutilation, or any other kind of torture. It also forbids content that incites or glorifies violence or those who cause it.
Lastly, acknowledging the many ways that can be used to humiliate and harass others - such as deepfake images - Tumblr is making it clearer that sexual harassment is not allowed on the platform. A simple, but straightforward, sentence - which is highlighted in bold below - was added to the guidelines:
Don’t engage in targeted abuse or harassment. Don’t engage in the unwanted sexualization or sexual harassment of others.
These seem like relatively small changes in wording, but it should make it clearer which content should be reported to moderators - the number of which is also increasing, according to the announcement. The new guidelines take effect starting on September 10.