As A Final Fuck You To Free Speech On Tumblr, Verizon Blocked Archivists

from the seriously-guys? dept

By now, of course, you’re aware that the Verizon-owned Tumblr (which was bought by Yahoo, which was bought by Verizon and merged into “Oath” with AOL and other no longer relevant properties) has suddenly decided that nothing sexy is allowed on its servers. This took many by surprise because apparently a huge percentage of Tumblr was used by people to post somewhat racy content. Knowing that a bunch of content was about to disappear, the famed Archive Team sprung into action — as they’ve done many times in the past. They set out to archive as much of the content on Tumblr that was set to be disappeared down the memory hole as possible… and it turns out that Verizon decided as a final “fuck you” to cut them off. Jason Scott, the mastermind behind the Archive Team announced over the weekend that Verizon appeared to be blocking their IPs:

On Sunday, Scott announced that the Archive Team has figured out a way to get past the blocks:

Still, this is a pretty fucked up thing for Verizon to do. It’s one thing to decide to completely change the kind of content you host. That’s their call. But, at the very least, allow the people who focus on archiving the internet for historical purposes the chance to actually do what they do best. Blocking the Archive Team is a truly obnoxious move, cementing Verizon’s reputation as really not caring one bit about the damage the company does.

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Companies: tumblr, verizon

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Comments on “As A Final Fuck You To Free Speech On Tumblr, Verizon Blocked Archivists”

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87 Comments
Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: The problem...

The problem though, is that most people can’t afford their own content silo, so they have to rely on someone else to host it. Even if they have their own silo, they’re usually reliant on DNS services. Even with their own DNS, they are subject to the laws of the nation their server is in (and often even to laws of nations it’s not in, such as the US, EU and Canada).

Even the best intentions often down’t survive the real world. Witness what happened to PINAC — the founder got locked out of his own site by partners. All it takes is one argument and a fit of ego, and suddenly one person steals the content of dozens.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: The problem...

Because it is convenient.. and nothing stops you from making a backup copy.

Also, if you think “the cloud” is the problem here, I’d like to present decades of dealing with people who never bothered with backups, backed up but stored their floppies on magnetic surfaces and all sorts of other incidents vs. the people I know who managed to retrieve their data because their iTunes/Google/Dropbox/whatever account saved it all without them realising they had it set up.

The initial point of controlling your own content is valid, but let’s not pretend that people losing their work because something messed up is a new thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The problem...

In many cases these are younger people that haven’t learned to backup their stuff… and that something isn’t a backup until you test it… i may be mangling that nugget of knowledge a bit.

A harsher lesson than many of us older people learned when we lost our precious floppies filled with 50x50pixel heavily compressed porn images when everyone together loses years and upon years of unbackedup work.

But yes, clouds aren’t the problem. It’s trusting the cloud to always do right by you is the problem.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The problem...

“In many cases these are younger people that haven’t learned to backup their stuff”

Age also has nothing to do with it, though, except there’s been less time to experience a serious data loss

“something isn’t a backup until you test it”

…and general domestic users will never, ever do such a thing. If you’re applying good IT working practice to either home PC users back in the days of floppies or to users of online services now, you’re seriously overestimating the general public.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The problem...

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Backup is important and some people haven’t learnt the zero’th law of systems administration.

But, that is not the problem. The “cloud” (read large IT service providers) control access to your data, and know who is accessing it and when, which then can then give to govt, sold, or have its access restrictions changed.

If you have someone else to this “hostingish-cloudy-fun” for you, you need to establish a trust relationship with them, or have lots of money to sue them if they do dodgy things or break contract.

What we have seen again and again is the as large IT service companies start to gather power, their “hosting” behaviour starts to have politics thrown into the pot. Then its about if your “content” matches existing political rhetoric.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The problem...

“Backup is important and some people haven’t learnt the zero’th law of systems administration.”

…and the average consumer never will. They didn’t when all you had to do was store a single floppy somewhere safe (or even remember to save to that disk before turning the PC off at the plug – I’ve seen it all), and they certainly won’t when it’s automated for them 99.999% of the time.

“If you have someone else to this “hostingish-cloudy-fun” for you”

…which the average consumer always has and always will. Hell, in a way we’re not even talking a change in company here. The concerns are essentially the same whether you were using the eventual Yahoo product Geocities in the late 90s or the eventual Yahoo product Tumblr in the late 2010s. The only real core difference is the number of users now.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 The problem...

…and the average consumer never will. They didn’t when all you had to do was store a single floppy somewhere safe (or even remember to save to that disk before turning the PC off at the plug – I’ve seen it all), and they certainly won’t when it’s automated for them 99.999% of the time.

Unfortunately that seems to be a lesson everyone has to learn the hard way.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re: The problem...

Because it is convenient.. and nothing stops you from making a backup copy.

Not true in all cases. DLC, and digital "purchases" for game consoles can’t be backed up in any meaningful way. As I understand it, you can make a copy of it and even restore it if the hard drive dies and needs to be replaced, but if the console itself dies and you buy a new one, your backups are useless because they can’t be restored to a console with a different ID than they were created on. Re-downloading the content is your only option in such cases, assuming it’s still available.

Anonymous Coward says:

The 'Fuck You' standard

This is not unlike the way Patreon recently banned a bunch of people without warning. They could have simply disabled money transfers and/or given long term users a chance to say thanks and goodbye to each other before pulling the plug on everything. Companies might want to take note, considering how Patreon is now enduring a growing boycott by former customers, and doubling down in response to the exodus is only going to make things worse.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: They did nazi that coming

So is Sam Harris now suddenly a Nazi?

Neuroscientist Sam Harris has dealt a public relations nightmare to crowdfunding platform Patreon by blasting its “Trust and Safety” team while announcing his plan to drop the platform within 24 hours.

The author of “Free Will” told his 1 million-plus Twitter followers Sunday that crowdfunding on Patreon these days is like dealing with a fickle tyrant, indirectly referencing the recent ban of Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, as an example of its arbitrarily applied standards.

“As many of you know the crowdfunding site Patreon has banned several prominent content creators from its platform,” he tweeted. “While the company insists that each was in violation of its terms of service, these recent expulsions seem more readily explained by political bias. Although I don’t share the politics of the banned members, I consider it no longer tenable to expose any part of my podcast funding to the whims of Patreon’s ‘Trust and Safety’ committee.

“I will deleting my Patreon account tomorrow,” he continued.

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/dec/17/sam-harris-drops-patreon-author-rips-trust-and-saf

Jordan Peterson revealed that he had already been setting up a censorship-free crowdfunding platform that would not be vulnerable to PayPal and other ban-happy payment processors, after Subscribestar was immediately crippled this way shortly after Patreon boycotters and outcasts alike flooded the site.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: They did nazi that coming

Nah he’s a useful idiot. Sargon on the other hand is an alt-righter aka neo-nazi. But hey if deplatforming neo-nazis sparks a boycott, and a new start p, hey more power to you scumbags. Just don’t act like this is a high and might moral crusade and that the populace is surging up to demand that a private platform be forced to host speech they find morally reprehensible. Don’t be ignorant and make someone pull out the XKCD free speech comic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: They did nazi that coming

And now another top-ranked Patreon member Sword & Scale has announced plans to quit the site entirely as soon as Peterson’s crowdfunding project is up and running:

As the fifth largest content creator on @Patreon, we do not feel the policing of speech should be part of the business model. Looking forward to joining the alternative platform proposed by @RubinReport and @JordanBPeterson as soon as it’s launched. youtu.be/VvGs5bGwWiM

https://twitter.com/SwordAndScale/status/1074934600269524992

Who would have ever guessed that Patreon was such a snakepit of Nazis?

Anonymous Coward says:

Verizon wonders why people hate them. Then they enact another poorly thought plan that pisses off the audience they’ve been trying to reach. Sounds like normal for them.

Maybe they should all go back to business school. Or atleast go back to the drawing board for a new plan.

They keep trying to use a screwdriver on a rivet and wonder why it’s not working.

DoctorMckay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I sincerely doubt Verizon took this decision without taking into account how much NSFW and SFW content was being viewed in Tumblr.

Probably they saw the could still make a profit even after deleting NSFW content.

Now, what I think they did not take into account was relevance. Why does the internet know Tumblr if it is not for the LGBTQ+(I dunno how the acronym is supposed to be written right now) community(that usually is very open about sexuality), the furry community and the porn artists?

Anonymous Coward says:

This censorship push wrapped in jane do-gooder language is tyrannical corporate authoritarianism.

Activist journalists spinning lies to go after the jobs and source of revenue for citizens who argue legally for issues important to them.

The destruction of historical record on the internet to wipe away these caches of information that can spread awareness or used to research complicated issues.

Within the stated goal of eliminating ‘sexy’ content on Tumlr, there is a huge amount of unrelated material disappearing along with it quietly and designed to go without notice.

The trap is sprung to curtail the internet. We see now that its been replaced with an AOL or Cable -type network with financial institutions and tech giants hand-in-hand working to strangle and site that recognizes legal speech outside central control.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re:

But it’s their platform and you have no right to free speech on it, right Mike?

Right.

Nobody has a right to free speech on Tumblr. Tumblr has a legal right to take down content on its service, for any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all. Tumblr is absolutely, 100% within its legal rights here.

Are you arguing that just because something is legal, that means nobody should criticize it?

If so, great. This article is legal, therefore you should shut the fuck up.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

They don’t, though.

“They have the legal right to do this” is not equivalent to “they should do this.” You can simultaneously believe that a thing (1) is legal, (2) should be legal, and (3) is not a good idea.

Permit me to demonstrate.

It is legal for you to hit yourself in the face with a hammer, very hard.

Do you understand the difference between something being legal and something being a good thing to do?

ryuugami says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

It is legal for you to hit yourself in the face with a hammer, very hard.

Do you understand the difference between something being legal and something being a good thing to do?

Bad example.

Hey blue, don’t listen to Thad! Hitting yourself in the face with a hammer would be a great idea — all the CEOs are doing it!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Except he doesn’t. His views are that the platform can make any decision they damn well please, and unless the government is involved, there’s no legal freedom of speech issues. Forcing someone to host content they don’t want to host itself raises freedom of speech concerns.

Within that, though: there’s a wide range of legal but stupid, which is what this article is about.

Bruce C. says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I don’t see any claim in the article that what Verizon is doing is illegal or raises freedom of speech issues. He’s just saying that a) the way they exercise their editorial discretion on Tumblr is largely contrary to their stated objectives and b) their final action against the archivists was a dick move.

Speaking of which, Verizon could decide to double-down on dickery and go after the archivists under the CFA. The IP blocking clearly demonstrates intent to prevent users at those locations from accessing the affected pages and they admit to circumventing those restrictions on twitter.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

But it’s their platform and you have no right to free speech on it, right Mike?

Yes, as stated in the post you appear not to have read.

Or is that only okay if Google or Facebook own the platform engaging in censorship?

Did you even read or did you so eagerly rush here with a "gotcha" that you look like someone who didn’t read, nor understand, the actual post? Ah, right, the latter.

The platforms have every right to host or not host what they want. And I have every right to criticize the decisions they make over it, explaining why doing what they did was a dick move — just as I’ve criticized moderation decisions by Google and Facebook that were bad (not that you will admit that I regularly criticize both companies — because it doesn’t fit your "strawman Mike" that you like to knock down).

I have been entirely consistent, as basically everyone here but you seems to understand.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

"I have been entirely consistent, as basically everyone here but you seems to understand."

Reasonably consistent, but not entirely consistent. The issue of regulating ISPs and forcing "network neutrality" on them certainly comes to mind. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but it serves to poison any appearance of maintaining an impartial principled stand when insisting that the government must maintain a complete hands-off policy with some private companies but a rigorous hands-on policy with others.

But then many of us non-zealots don’t really believe in strict absolutes anyway.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“insisting that the government must maintain a complete hands-off policy with some private companies but a rigorous hands-on policy with others”

I’ve never seen any hypocrisy there, except when people have to completely misrepresent what’s actually being said. For example, there’s no problem stating that the government should be protecting net neutrality while keeping their hands out of search results and indexing. Those are two completely different issues, so require two totally different responses.

Now, it would be hypocritical if it was said that Comcast needs to be forced to obey net neutrality but not Google Fiber, or that it was OK to censor Bing results but not Google’s. But to say ISPs need to be regulated for the public good, but less regulation is appropriate for search results is not a problem. It only appears to be a problem if you pretend that the different industry sectors are not part of the equation.

Rocky says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

AFAIK Mike been consistent, it’s just that you are conflating two different issues.

The use of a platform doesn’t need regulation since users almost always have a choice of switching to a comparable one, calling for regulation of an captive infrastructure market that’s almost completely broken where users have near zero choice is something else.

JMT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Can you really not see how those two issues are completely different?

Also note that there has never been (or proposed to be) a “rigorous hands-on policy” regarding net neutrality. The rules that were in place were pretty basic consumer protections that would be easy to follow for any company not obsessed with fucking over their customers for every penny. They’re also rules most countries don’t even need because of healthy competition in their markets.

BentFranklin (profile) says:

Verizon got what they wanted when they bought Tumblr: knowledge of each and every person’s kinks. So now why would they need Tumblr anymore? Want to run for Congress? Better not cross Verizon! Oh, and the Russians probably got all that too when they hacked Yahoo.

Well, maybe not, but who knows? I’d sure rather it wasn’t even a possibility.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Verizon got what they wanted when they bought Tumblr: knowledge of each and every person’s kinks.

Yes. That’s why Verizon bought Yahoo. Because it wanted to blackmail people on Tumblr.

Why do some people see a company do something dumb and immediately assume it’s part of some brilliant secret play instead of just, y’know, dumb?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon%27s_razor

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

They keep flagging their own examples of allowed content, this should explain how well thought out this was.

Verizon wants to rebuild Tumblr & allowing people to archive what was there would keep coming back to bite them cutting ad revenue.

Now the app can stay in the apple walled garden & advertisers will be okay with advertising on a new porn free Tumblr!!!

Why would advertisers pay to advertise to a platform with no users?

Rekrul says:

People are really giving Verizon too much credit, saying they want to do this or that with Tumblr. I doubt anyone at Verizon gives a shit about Tumblr. Tumblr is like the free mouse mat that a company shoves in the box when you order something. They got it free when they bought something else, but it wasn’t something they really wanted. If this decision kills Tumblr, they’ll just shrug and shut it down, saying that it was no longer profitable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: And the lesson is

Actually, Tumblr provides a method of retrieving all your posts and also all of your liked posts (probably as a GDPR requirement). This story is about external access and archiving by blog readers, not blog owners.

So, no, that’s not a lesson to be learned from this. It’s a good lesson, just not a relevant one.

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