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Automattic needs to rebalance its hate speech & free speech/copyright protections as soon as possible

Matt Mullenweg has been on the right side of history for most of his life. Open source, blogging, distributed teams – these are transformative ideas.

His company, Automattic, bears both his names and his values. For the most part, I’m an extreme fan boy of A8c and WordPress in general. But when I read Jared’s tweets this morning, I recoiled in horror.

Indeed, the Times website headline makes the moral question even clearer:

Read the New York Times article here.

Leonard Pozner, father of Noah who was slain at Sandy Hook, said of Automattic, “They have taken this incorrect interpretation of freedom of speech to an extreme.”

When pushed on the form responses to Pozner’s complaints, Automattic said, “While our policies have many benefits to free expression for those who use our platform, our system like many others that operate at large scale, is not ideal for getting to the deeper context of a given request.” A8c did not, however, offer an immediate remedy, although it stated that “the pain that the family has suffered is very real and if tied to the contents of sites we host, we want to have policies to address that.”

Explained Pozner to Times reporters John Hermann and Sapna Maheshswari.

Technology platforms have had this misguided, futuristic vision of freedom of speech and everything was built around that, but it doesn’t really fit into the day-to-day use of it. By not taking action, they have made a choice. They are the arbiters of truth by doing nothing.

Leonard Pozner, father of Noah Pozner who was murdered at Sandy Hook

While Automattic’s efforts to reject & shame frivolous takedown requests are well-intentioned, when considered in this new light, the levity comes off poorly.

If my personal experience with Automatticians is any indication, this episode has likely affected them deeply, and the dilemma with free speech is a truly wicked problem. But it’s a problem worth solving, and one of worthy magnitude for a project that sets out for nothing less than the democratization of publishing.

Automattic, please find a policy solution that empowers people like Pozner, without jeopardizing the protections that we’ve come to expect – the web is counting on you!

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