WordPress.com Defies Marked Increase in Russian Takedown Requests – WP Tavern
Automatique published its semi-annual report on transparency this week, which highlights the various requests for information and withdrawal received in the services of the company.
Historically, Automattic has used these reports as an opportunity to publicly reaffirm its commitment to actively push back against requests that violate users’ freedom of expression and to call attention to abusive takedown requests. In 2014, the company opened up its DMCA takedown process documents to help others implement their own processes. Past Transparency Reports have included information on intellectual property disputes, IRUs (Dedicated Government Internet Reference Unit Reports), National Security Letters, Government Information Requests, and other issues related to Hosted Content.
In 2021, Automattic released a unified landing page for WordPress.com and Tumblr’s Transparency Reports, now hosted on the same site, aimed at making data easier to navigate and compare. In the future, this may include other company products like Day One and Pocket Casts, as relevant requests come in.
The most recent report for the first half of 2022, includes information on Russian censorship requests received by WordPress.com.
“Over the past six months, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we have seen a marked increase in the number of takedown requests targeting content critical of the Russian government and its associates,” said WordPress.com Community Guardian Stephen McLeod. said Blythe. He cited specific examples relating to the Russian invasion of Ukraine:
- Fundraising for Ukrainian Aid
- Telling the story of Russia with a perspective on what led to the war in Ukraine
- Allegations of criminal activity by Russian oligarchs and their personal ties to Putin
- Publication of comments by former Russian soldiers who were critical of the military involvement in Ukraine
“In all of these cases, given our concerns about access to critical information from Russia and the implications for freedom of expression, we have decided that we will not geoblocks the content in question,” Blythe said.
The report also included information on how Automattic resolved IP blocks from two major ISPs in Colombia, after the country blocked Tumblr without disclosing the reason. Colombia’s Ministry of Technologies and Communications had blocked the service after discovering a spam blog on the network. Despite the fact that Automattic had already deleted the blog, the process of unblocking Tumblr took months.
“Situations like these are not uncommon and, as the example above shows, the issue of online government censorship or regional platform blocks cannot be reflected solely by the number of takedown requests received,” Blythe said. “As a result, we are committed to continuously reviewing and expanding the information we are able to share in our Transparency Report.”