The fediverse instance Journa.host, which was created to cater to current and retired journalists, faced some serious challenges over the past few days. One of their members posted a link to an article on the New York Times site that has been described by many members of the transgender community as transphobic. The administrators and moderators of Journa.host did not take action despite many requests to do so, which ultimately ended in an ugly name calling incident that resulted in a transgender journalist and the original poster of the offending material being suspended, apparently for their behavior.
I recently convened a team of moderators to help with protecting our community from harassment and the uglier sides of the fediverse. One of the guiding principles I laid out was that we are “intolerant of intolerance”. In the past few weeks since we expanded from 180 active members to nearly 30,000 active members, I’ve gotten to see some prime examples of hate and intolerance. Most of them are blindingly clear. We have observed people asking our members to take their own lives, calling them the worst racists, sexist, and transphobic terms I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading. Those cases are exceedingly clear: the purveyors of such hate are immediately blocked, and if a moderator or administrator of the instance is involved, that instance is also immediately blocked. If the instance moderators fail to take action or we see repeated abuse, the remote instance is blocked.
This case was different. I spent hours reading the timeline of journa.host looking for indications that they have a systemic issue and what I found is… a bunch of journalists talking about journalist stuff, complaining about Trump, Musk, and promoting their latest stories on climate change and so on. I read the offending NYT article, which was so long as to make my brain fuzzy, and while it certainly smacks of “both side” journalism, it appeared to me, at least, to be doctors and researchers warning about the unintended side effects of some drug treatments. I am not transgender though, and so I must accept that I don’t have the required context to make a valid determination.
One member of our community called this out and has been calling this out to me and asking that I act. Several other instances in the fediverse have chosen to defederate from or limit journa.host due to their propagating transphobic material and inadequate moderator response. It took me too long to act here – I can make excuses about being busy and whatnot, but here we are.
I have instituted a limit on journa.host. That means their posts won’t show up in our timelines unless you (an infosec.exchange member) are specifically following an account. I will be watching to see whether journa.host makes a move to correct their moderation practices, in which case I will lift the limitations, or doubles down, in which case I will move to fully suspend and defederate with journa.host.
I stand with the transgender community. I stand with all minority communities. Sometimes that is going to be unpopular. Infosec.exchange is not a free speech instance. If your expectations are otherwise for infosec.exchange, I invite you to depart now. You may find a list of sites that might be acceptable to you the list of instances we have blocked available under the “Moderated Servers” section at this link. I expect that our members and those people who we interact with on other instances treat each other with kindness and respect. I cannot and will not yield on this principle.
We are all here for a short time. All of us have our struggles. Some are unimaginably more difficult than we can imagine. In addition to using unique passwords and turning on MFA everyone, my ONE ask of each of you is to be kind to one other. Online and in person.