Tumblr deletes millions of reblogs for promoting hate speech

Mariella Moon
Associate Editor
Chiang Mai, Thailand - March 22, 2016: screen shot of Tumblr application showing on Asus Zenfone 2 mobile phone. Tumblr is a microblogging platform and social networking website

Tumblr has started a mass reblog deletion meant to purge traces of hate speech from suspended blogs on its platform. In a post announcing the move, the company said it’s in the midst of removing 4.47 million posts reblogging content from nearly a thousand Nazi-related blogs that had already been frozen and deleted.

Tumblr explained that most of the existing hate speech posts on its website came from those blogs, living on as reblogs even after they’d been removed. And since the reblogs “rarely contained the kind of counter-speech that serves to keep hateful rhetoric in check” — they weren’t being used as educational examples by people making counter-arguments to hate speech, for instance — Tumblr decided to change the way it deals with them. In the future, it will evaluate blogs suspended for hate speech and decide on whether mass deleting reblogs from them is the best course of action.

The company wrote in its post that it consulted with outside groups and experts before making its decision. And since some will definitely see the move as a form of censorship, the company preemptively defended itself in the post:

“We are, and will always remain, steadfast believers in free speech. 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.”