A message from a few of the trans staff at Tumblr & Automattic:

We want trans people, and LGBTQ+ people broadly, to feel welcome on Tumblr, in part because we as trans people at Tumblr and Automattic want it to be a space where we ourselves feel included. We want to feel like this is a platform that supports us and fights for our safety. Tumblr is made brighter and more vibrant by your presence, and the LGBTQ+ folks who help run it are fighting all the time for this, for you, internally. 

A few days ago, Matt Mullenweg (the CEO of Automattic, Tumblr’s parent company) responded to a user’s ask about an account suspension in a way that negatively affected Tumblr’s LGBTQ+ community. We believe that Matt’s response to this ask and his continued commentary has been unwarranted and harmful. Tumblr staff do not comment on moderation decisions as a matter of policy for a variety of reasons—including the privacy of those involved, and the practicalities of moderating thousands of reports a day. The downside of this policy is that it is very easy for rumors and incorrect information about actions taken by our Trust & Safety team to spread unchecked. Given this, we want to clarify a few different pieces of this situation:

  • The reality of predstrogen’s suspension was not accurately conveyed, and made it seem like we were reaching for opportunities to ban trans feminine people on the platform. This is not the case. The example comment shared in the post linked above does not meet our definition of a realistic threat of violence, and was not the deciding factor in the account suspension.
  • Matt thereafter failed to recognize the harm to the community as a result of this suspension. Matt does not speak on behalf of the LGBTQ+ people who help run Tumblr or Automattic, and we were not consulted in the construction of a response to these events.
  • Last year, the “mature” and “sexual themes” community labels were erroneously applied to some users’ posts. An outside team of contractors tasked with applying community labels to posts were responsible for this larger trend of mislabeling trans-related content. When our Trust & Safety team discovered this issue (thanks largely to reports from the community), we removed the contracted team’s ability to apply community labels and added more oversight to ensure it does not happen again. In the Staff post about this, LGBTQ+ staff pushed to be more transparent but were overruled by leadership. The termination of a contractor mentioned in the original ask response was for an unrelated incident which was incorrectly attributed to this case. We regret that the mislabeling ever happened, and the negative impact it has had on the trans community on Tumblr. 
  • Transition timelines are not against our community guidelines, and weren’t a factor considered by the moderation team when discussing suspensions and subsequent appeals. We do not take action against content that is related to transitioning or trans bodies unless it includes violations of the Community Guidelines.
  • When it comes to the experience of trans folks on Tumblr encountering transphobic content, and interacting with bigoted users, we understand and share your frustrations. Tumblr’s policies, and Automattic’s policies, are written to ensure freedom of speech and expression. We prohibit harassment as defined in our Community Guidelines, but we know that this policy falls short of protecting users from the wider scope of harmful speech often used against LGBTQ+ and other marginalized people.
  • Going forward, Tumblr is taking the following actions:
  • Prioritizing anti-harassment features that will empower users to more effectively protect themselves from harassment.
  • Building more internal tooling for us as Staff to proactively identify and mitigate instances of harassment.
  • Reviewing which of the tags frequently used by the trans community are blocked, and working to make them available next week.

We’re sorry for how this all transpired, and we’re actively fighting to make our voices heard more and prevent something like this from happening again in the future. We know firsthand that having to deal with situations like this as a Tumblr user is difficult, particularly as a member of an already frequently targeted and harassed community. We know it will take time to regain your trust, and we’re going to put in the work to rebuild it.

We appreciate the space we have been given to express our concerns and dissent, and we are thankful that Matt’s (and Automattic’s) strong commitment to freedom of expression has facilitated it.

We will continue to fight to make Tumblr safe for us all.

This statement was authored by multiple trans employees of Tumblr and Automattic.

i think most of the negative commenters here have no idea how to read corpo-speak when the employees actually care but their bosses are making dumbass decisions. people are acting like the staff who wrote this are oppressors when they’re literally saying they are having to fight internally to be heard by the people making decisions.

this basically says, “sorry our CEO is being a dipshit, we really don’t like it and we were overruled on decisions that made things worse. now that he’s blown this up we can finally do the things higher-ups didn’t let us do earlier.”

the note about being thankful for “matt’s strong commitment to freedom of expression”, i’m not sure how sincere it is, but it reads to me like “thanks for not firing us for making this post, and thanks for listening (or being strong-armed into listening) to us when we told you that you’re fucking things up and you should let us fix it.”

my heart goes out to y’all for dealing with this bullshit, both internally and externally, and i hope you get the changes that you want and deserve to make tumblr a better workplace and a better posting zone. a lot of ppl really don’t understand how hard it is to be in a company whose work you believe in when leadership is doing things you disagree with and you have to thread the needle of communicating that while being professional (i.e. compliant with corporate communication guidelines).

Corpo speak professional here. I’m the lawyer that corpo consults when they want to make a corpo speak apology or do some PR management.

In all my career, I have never seen a corporation issue a public statement written by line employees like the post above on an official account. A corporation will always issue an apology or something like this from the highest level – the CEO itself or speaking on behalf of the corporation as a whole, written by their lawyers and/or PR team.

For Tumblr to allow and issue a statement written by employees speaking on behalf of themselves is incredibly rare and frankly shows tumblrs commitment to it’s queer staff and users.

That in and of itself should make this be a positive sign

Self-reblogging because I see enough things in the comments where people are saying “well they need to fire the Matt.”

Under normal governance, a corporation’s CEO can be removed by the board of directors, but the board of directors can be removed by the shareholders… and while I’m not EXACTLY sure who has controlling interest I’ve got a pretty good idea who it is:

In February of this year, Automattic closed a new primary funding round of $288M, bringing in some great new partners including BlackRock, Wellington, Schonfeld, and Alta Park. Existing investors ICONIQ and Aglaé (Bernard Arnault) also participated. This round was common stock, and like all funding since 2011, included a proxy assigning me the right to vote the shares.

Automattic is a privately held company so teasing stock ownership out is difficult. From everything i’ve checked Matt sill has controlling interest in the company and is therefore unfireable.

(Please correct me if I’m wrong)

You aced it