Tumblr recently announced that it was banning all explicit images from its site and started notifying posters which of their images would be removed. As we expected, the algorithms were too broad, identifying images that showed clothed people, abstract art, dinosaurs and even a vase.
Tumblr took the action after Apple removed the Tumblr app from its app store due to claims that Tumblr displayed child porn. That Tumblr took the posts down once they were notified, per CDA Section 230, didn’t matter. Apple’s heavy handed action demonstrates the power that gigantic corporations have over what we are allowed to see and post. Faced with their profits or right to free speech by the millions of Tumblr users who weren’t sharing child porn, it isn’t hard to see which one wins in the eye of corporations.
FOSTA, a law which removes CDA Section 230 protections for web sites if they are found to have hosted posts by sex traffickers even if they removed the post, likely affected Tumblr’s decision. What better way to remove anything a sex trafficker might post than by removing any explicit post. Verizon, Tumblr’s owner, gets to show they are doing something and removes its liability.
FOSTA was justified as a way to fight sex trafficking, which it failed at. Now it is a tool to promote censorship, whether by corporations or individuals. The internet sex panic that FOSTA started won’t end with trolls going after ASMR creators or Tumblr censoring explicit images.
This is why our December 16th vigil to mourn sex workers lost to violence, and to renew our commitment to greater rights and safety for all sex workers is so important. Attempts to equate all sex work with sex trafficking got us FOSTA. Supporting people’s right to control their bodies is part of the effort to end laws that hinder our ability to speak and share freely.
In preparation for the vigil we will hold a sign making party this Saturday, December 8th from 2-4pm. It will be at the Capital One Café community room in Copley Square, 799 Boylston Street, Boston. We’ll also have flyers you can distribute. We hope you will make it.
The vigil will be Sunday, December 16th at 7pm in front of Boston Police Headquarters. BPD headquarters is at One Schroeder Plaza in Roxbury. It is between the Roxbury Crossing and Ruggles stops on the MBTA Orange line, and a short walk from either. We are happy to join with the Harvard Law School’s Sex Worker Advocacy Network for this event.
There are multiple ways you can help make the vigil successful:
- Tell us you plan to attend
- Join our Facebook event
- Encourage your friends to attend the vigil
- Share this post, the sign up page or the Facebook event
- Join the sign making party this Saturday
- Distribute flyers or put up posters
- Encourage an organization you work with to co-sponsor the event
- Donate to help pay for the event
Additionally, please sign our petition to urge Senators Warren and Markey to put a hold on HR 6729, which would allow warrantless searches of our bank accounts, and urge others to sign it.