On Monday, Jezebel staff filed a post entitled “We Have a Rape Gif Problem and Gawker Media Won’t Do Anything About It.” The post shared that “For months, an individual or individuals has been using anonymous, untraceable burner accounts to post gifs of violent pornography in the discussion section of stories on Jezebel.”
The images arrive in a barrage, and the only way to get rid of them from the website is if a staffer individually dismisses the comments and manually bans the commenter. But because IP addresses aren’t recorded on burner accounts, literally nothing is stopping this individual or individuals from immediately signing up for another, and posting another wave of violent images (and then bragging about it on 4chan in conversations staffers here have followed, which we’re not linking to here because fuck that garbage).
People at Gawker Media are aware of the problem, the post continued, and not doing anything about it.
“This has been an ongoing problem, one that higher ups have been aware of, but finding a solution clearly hasn’t been a company priority,” Jessica Coen, Jezebel’s editor-in-chief, said in an email to Poynter. “It’s time to light a fire under management’s collective ass.”
Coen said that Joel Johnson, Gawker Media’s editorial director, did know about the piece and was “completely supportive.”
Re: Jezebel. 1. They rule. 2. I've dropped the ball and they're right to call me out. 3. I don't have a solution yet but that's my problem.
— Joel Johnson (@joeljohnson) August 11, 2014
After the post, Jezebel staffers shared their own thoughts in the comments section. This one is from Madeleine Davies:
For what it’s worth, I want to apologize to our readers who are forced to interact with these violent gifs regularly. The point of Kinja is to create a better platform for discussion and those discussions CANNOT happen when you’re inundated by such traumatizing material. It’s this person’s goal to shutdown conversations and make you feel unsafe. They want you to feel upset, they want you to feel humiliated and they want you never to come back here.
It’s my hope that you don’t let this stranger keep you away, but at the same time, I absolutely understand if you’ve had enough (I know we have) and don’t want to deal with it anymore.
Ideally, the Gawker powers-that-be will take this seriously enough to begin taking the necessary steps to block IPs. Until then, I believe that the greatest issue here is not rape gifs, but that Gawker Media is prioritizing the safety and privacy of anonymous burner accounts over the safety of our readers, writers and women in general.
“The post is a staff statement because we’re all on the same page regarding this problem,” Coen said. “Going into the comments allows us to individually express our feelings about the situation and interact with readers on a more personal level.”
“We’re all in Budapest for the company offsite,” Coen said, “so the Gawker Media response remains to be seen. Readers have been sympathetic; they’re just as frustrated as we are.”