Tumblr Takes Aim at Reblogs to Quell Hate Speech

Nearly 1,000 blogs have been removed, most of them Nazi-related

Some 4.47 million reblogs will be removed when Tumblr is done Wachiwit/iStock
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Tumblr accelerated its efforts to remove hate speech from its platform by taking aim at reblogs.

The blogging platform said in a blog post that many users have been seeking a further re-evaluation of how it deals with hate speech and, particularly, content from Nazis or other white supremacist groups.

Using its own research and reports from users, Tumblr found that much of the existing hate speech on its platform was in the form of reblogs from blogs that had already been removed, adding that those reblogs often lack the type of counter-speech that helps keep rhetoric of this type in check.

Tumblr identified nearly 1,000 blogs that were removed for violating its policies on hate speech, with most of them Nazi-related, and it began the process this week of scrubbing reblogs of posts from the suspended blogs, saying that some 4.47 million reblogs will be removed when it is done.

The company added that moving forward, it will evaluate all blogs that were removed for hate speech and consider mass deletion of reblogs when appropriate.

Tumblr wrote, “We wouldn’t make a change like this without considering the impact to your freedom of expression. We do not want to silence those who are providing educational and necessary counterarguments to hate speech. We reviewed our approach with a variety of outside groups and experts to make sure we have aligned with their recommended best practices.”

The company concluded, “There’s no silver bullet solution, (artificial intelligence) or algorithm that can perfectly target hate speech. That’s why we have a dedicated trust and safety team, and why we have an easy way for you to report any hate speech you do see.”

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.