Wordpress shuts down several feminist blogs without warning.

On Friday last week, the website hosting platform called WordPress.com which is run by Automattic, abruptly shut down several well established feminist blogs that were hosted on their platform, without warning.

The "unapologetically radical feminists" group Women's Liberation Front, a.k.a WoLF were the owners of one of the suspended blogs, called GenderIdentitywatch.com. Another well-established blog called gendertrender, had eight years of posts wiped out by Wordpress & Automatticc. They received an identical email, after their content had already been made unavailable. 

In an email titled "Important information regarding our wordpress.com account", Sal P of Automatticc states;

We received a report regarding the publication of personal/private information on one of your blogs. Specifically, the malicious publication of private details related to gender identity, including former names.

This rule is listed here, and is a recent change to Wordpress' terms of service. In plain English, this means that you can not link and discuss news articles like this one about convicted sex offender Karen White, formerly known as Stephen Terence Wood, in this manner. Because apparently, Wordpress wants to assist convicted sex offenders in their goal to assume new identities not connected to their previous crimes.
It also means you can't talk about Bruce Jenner's Olympic medal, that Caitlyn Jenner wore while posing for the cover of Sports Illustrated. As Bruce, Caitlyn won the gold medal in 1976 Olympic Men's Decathlon. Ironically there was no women's decathlon.

Automattic's email suggests that the blog owner can download all of their data, and host it elsewhere using their download tool they make available "for a limited time." This useless tool is simply .xml files, which refers to links for the media files hosted on wordpress.com. When Wordpress shut down the domain at Wordpress.com, they also made downloading the media files impossible. Didn't think that through, did you, Wordpress engineers? It's so shortsighted, I literally headdesked.

With Wordpress now holding both content, in the way of media files and domain names connected to the accounts hostage, WoLF decided to take legal action. 

Years worth of screenshots, PDFs, and related data files, are now threatened with imminent deletion. WoLF states : "All of this information, to our knowledge, was originally part of the public domain, even if it’s no longer available online anywhere besides the reporting archives of feminist blogs. No evidence has been provided that so much as a single post on any of these feminist sites contained any incitement to violence or other criminal activity, or in any way constituted speech not protected under First Amendment rights."

Wordpress gave absolutely no warning to the account owners before they shut these blogs down. A WoLF spokeswoman explains; "I can tell you right off, I saw no notice from WordPress before the suspension. They also refused to answer my questions about what the specific content was they had a problem with, or give us a chance to fix it, they’ve said nothing about their failure to make our media files available, even after our lawyer sent them that letter."

When asked if WoLF thinks the new terms of service and subsequent terminations of sites, is purposely targeting feminist blogs in particular, a WoLF spokesperson responded affirmatively. 

"There's no question in my mind that the new terms of service and termination actions are purposely targeting feminist blogs in particular. There are websites unrelated to feminism that name prominent trans activists like Charles "Charlotte" Clymer and Dave "Danielle" Muscato that remain up and active. Further, the new terms by their design target feminist websites because they start with the premise that it's inherently "malicious" to publish the current or former legal name of a someone who claims to have a gender identity."

All it takes to get a blog taken down at Wordpress now, is apparently some time on your hands and this reporting tool. So if you host anything at all on Wordpress, now would be a good time to remove it before someone else does. 

Name brands and even local news sites use WordPress because it's an easy and very flexible CMS, and often they subscribe to Wordpress.com's hosting services. If you have set up a Wordpress site for any of your clients, keep in mind that their terms of service state that "Automattic may terminate your access to all or any part of our Services at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately."  They are not kidding.

GallusMag, the owner of now suspended Gendertrender noted in her statement that the selective deletion is a form of censorship.

I support a Congressional Inquiry into the selective censorship conducted by US based social media and blogging platforms. I support government regulation of such companies as public utilities, subject to constitutional law regarding freedom of speech.

Adland has reached out to Wordpress for comment and have at press time not received any reply. 

Wordpress' terms of service, before and after the recent change.
Wordpress' terms of service, before and after the recent change.

Update : It has been brought to our attention that Wordpress change their terms of service page, sometime after the 16th of November. Here are the terms of  service as archived the 17 Nov 2018 18:24:07 UTC. Here's the same page, as archived the 21st of Nov 2018 21:58:10 UTC. I hope WoLF's lawyer is paying attention, as the WoLF operated blog was taken down the 16th of November. Oh Wordpress, you dun goofed.

AnonymousCoward's picture
Dabitch's picture

Note, currently, the official WoLF website, located at http://womensliberationfront.org/ is down, so the link to them in my article is not working at this time.

CriticalThinker's picture

WoLF's website is up again (just FYI).

m0r1arty's picture

First they came for the Gamergat...wait, they're on feminists already?

Shit, this stuff moves faster than before!

Heads up peeps!!

CyberWanderlust's picture

Hey Dabitch!

"This useless tool is simply .xml files, which refers to links for the media files hosted on wordpress.org. When Wordpress shut down the domain at Wordpress.org, they also make downloading the media files impossible."

This is also the case at Twitter. I have an account that is very old, I'm using it since August 2006 and my Twitter ID is 3690. This means I get to see their deployment of new software on the platform before others. For the first time in 12 years I downloaded all my DATA from Twitter. That means text, video, gifs every piece of content I put there over the years.

I cried tears of joy, because I know this is something that was not possible FOR YEARS. In the case Twitter shuts down your account, you were not getting your data at all.
You were getting an XML file that links to your content online. This is still the case with NEW accounts on Twitter that are not old as mine. So, they haven't still deployed that possibility to everyone, 3 months after I got it.

This means many many feminists are loosing their data from Twitter too, in the case of deactivation. Also, you can download your Twitter data only ONCE A MONTH.
And yes, I don't think that in the case of Twitter shutting down your account they offer you to download your data at all.

So, this is not a BUG among the Silicone Willy products, it's A FUCKING FEATURE! ;)

Dabitch's picture

Thanks for that comment. I wasn't aware that Twitter only allows you to download your data once a month. Also, I noticed via your quote here that I wrote ".org" in the article when I meant "wordpess.com", which is the paid for hosted by them version, so I changed it in the article to make this clear.

CyberWanderlust's picture

Thanks for publishing my comment Dabitch,

I also DON't GET THE DATA from Wordpress. I only get the xml DOCUMENTS (https://imgur.com/a/1L4AecL) about my data. And it's not good solution! This practically means I need to have my blog ALIVE at WordPress at the point of "transfer" to another platform and to remain the user of Wordpress to keep my files LIVE while linking them on another platform.

I didn't manage to import my Wordpress into Tumblr all at once today.
The back-up contained only the data from 2010. Why? You can only import around 70 items to Tumblr in a day! And it has been a rule at Tumblr for years!
Large Wordpress blogs are not going to migrate at Tumblr.
A common user has to break their Wordpress XML documents to import this! And how? There's a tool http://wp2tumblr.jonthornton.com/ while this post http://wpsecurity.org/49/how-to-migrate-from-wordpress-to-tumblr instruct one to use PHP.

And here how the post with the picture looks like: https://imgur.com/a/sp6kN26
The picture is linked directly to a picture FILE hosted on Wordpress. It's not really "IMPORTED" to Tumblr: https://cyberwanderlustblog.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/3abf6-tumblr_l5yx1qj6e91qbadueo1_500-scaled500.jpg

LOL! So, the blog back-ups are not really "transferable" !
Only the "tech elites" can do this. A common user is not going to be able to do this.

And all this points out that we're giving Wordpress our data, just like we give our data to ANY SOCIAL MEDIA platform.

Feminists reading this: we need A WEBSITE of ONE's OWN.

***Virginia Cyber Woolf

ps. Dabitch, take a look how my @cyberwanderlust account looks like on the New Twitter https://imgur.com/a/57wG2Ln - see if you have the option to "Try the new Twitter" https://imgur.com/a/n0JgnVC - your Twitter ID is 790577 - I wonder if they have deployed this "new Twitter" to at least users that joined in 2007!
Also, this is the proof that I can download my Twitter data only once a month: https://imgur.com/a/ufT0gV4

If you would be interested in doing a story about our data on CMS platforms, blogs, and social media platforms, I can help! ;) I do think this is saying so much about the Silicone Willy standards. :D

Dabitch's picture

> I only get the xml DOCUMENTS

This is precisely why the feminist blogs are now dead, Wordpress shut off their xxxx.wordpress.com domains, and once that is done importing is impossible. You pay whatever a year to host on Wordpress.com, and you have no real access to your database or media files. Everyone would be better off finding a mom&pop web host for $10-20 a month with your own domain name etcetera. Importing to Tumblr, as you've discovered, will not work due to limitations on both ends, and again it's a "free" service, which is why it has limitations.

Sajber Vanderlast's picture

You're right about that all. What should the feminists do? MAKE THEIR OWN PLATFORMS. As seen in the newest case of Meghan Murphy of Feminist Current loosing her account on Twitter - she's not being de-platformed. She has her own platform.
In 2018 there was only one women-owned place that opened: GenderHammer forum. It is opened because many women want to talk to each other without having to be responsible for their own online platform creation. All the alternatives to Wordpress or Twitter are the same places, or they soon will be.
I've lived trough the beginning of the Web 2.0 and seen all these platforms being so inviting and permissive - to end up in a dead-end where they don't even need humans anymore. :) Thanks for this chat!

Skeltor's picture

Shouldn't be too big of deal, you could put all of the rational RadFem content ever written on the back of a postage stamp. Suits won't do them any good at all - hard to show a loss.

S.Kay's picture

You OK with Wordpress shutting down blogs because they "deadnamed" sexual predators?

Alice Smith's picture

Yeah

Test-o's picture

So what is the feminists viewpoint on freedom of speech and censorship now? Sooner or later they're going to have to realise that people including Gamergate who were banging on about it weren't doing that just to support their own issues, they were serious about it.
I support GG, but I'm also appalled by this deletion of established sites, no matter who runs them.

Iheanacho's picture

I honestly don't care about this, especially when I discovered these were RADICAL feminist and TERF sites. Karma's a bitch. They reaped what they sow and they did actually violate the rules of WordPress by invading others personal privacy, nothing is truly new here.

The same way I have no sympathy for sites supported by homophobic, racist, or ableist/anti-autism groups are being axed by Wordpress, why would I be surprised and why should I even care if a site run by sexist, misandrist, transphobic bigots finally get the axe?

Bea's picture

How on earth were they "invading others [sic] personal privacy" when the original names of these TRAs is public knowledge. Everyone knows Dave Moscato and all the rest precisely because they are public figures and have repeatedly, themselves, announced their original names.

You seem to just get enjoyment from name calling. Try some actual analysis next time.

mochazina's picture

You "don't care" so much you wrote a comment. Okay, sure.

Sad girl's picture

'woman' is merely a social construct now and you are not allowed to question this nonsense is this the society you wanted to create?

XYZ123's picture

Sport shooters communities are similarly targeted, especially on facebook, but as "we're evil" for owning firearms, nobody cares. Apparently the censorship is spreading to other areas as well.

Hearth Moon Rising's picture

Feminists have been using Wordpress.com sites because of DNS attacks and sophisticated hacking attempts the bloggers felt ill equipped to deal with. Feminist blogs are specifically attacked for being feminist. Rightly or wrongly, it hasn't been a matter of not knowing how to set up a blog on another web host, but an inability to meet the challenges associated with this option. With no advertising revenue and an all-volunteer staff stretched thin with other activist commitments, Wordpress.com seemed the best option. Until now.

Kissmekatey's picture

"First they came for the Alex Jones... and I did not speak up..."

MonkeyJJ's picture

So sad and true and where this is all headed without patents unwilling to co/sign on to this bs.

sport's picture

Jordan Petersen is currently looking into whether the banning on various social/digital media outlets is affecting only conservatives or on "both ends f the political spectrum"

https://twitter.com/jordanbpeterson/status/1071516948918284288

I think this example with banned Radical Feminist blogs shows that it is indeed both ends.