Many people grew angry at Kickstarter yesterday when the crowd-funding site failed to remove a project funding a “seduction manual” written by a Redditor known for advising men to play fast and loose with the concept of consent. Now, the site has posted a statement explaining why they didn’t remove the project in time, apologizing for letting it slip through the cracks, and detailing the steps it is taking to make amends.
In a post titled “We Were Wrong,” the staff of Kickstarter write:
On Wednesday morning Kickstarter was sent a blog post quoting disturbing material found on Reddit. The offensive material was part of a draft for a “seduction guide” that someone was using Kickstarter to publish. The posts offended a lot of people — us included — and many asked us to cancel the creator’s project. We didn’t.
We were wrong.
Why didn’t we cancel the project when this material was brought to our attention? Two things influenced our decision:
- The decision had to be made immediately. We had only two hours from when we found out about the material to when the project was ending. We’ve never acted to remove a project that quickly.
- Our processes, and everyday thinking, bias heavily toward creators. This is deeply ingrained. We feel a duty to our community — and our creators especially — to approach these investigations methodically as there is no margin for error in canceling a project. This thinking made us miss the forest for the trees.
These factors don’t excuse our decision but we hope they add clarity to how we arrived at it.
Two hours is a pretty short time to make such a decision, especially when it involves going to other sites to research someone’s statements, so this seems somewhat understandable.
Next, the post clarifies the site’s policies, emphasizing that they always eliminate abusive content when they catch it in time:
Let us be 100% clear: Content promoting or glorifying violence against women or anyone else has always been prohibited from Kickstarter. If a project page contains hateful or abusive material we don’t approve it in the first place. If we had seen this material when the project was submitted to Kickstarter (we didn’t), it never would have been approved. Kickstarter is committed to a culture of respect.
I believe this statement, especially considering those horrible quotes came not from the guy’s Kickstarter page itself, but from Reddit. But that’s not all! Kickstarter says it’s too late to take the money back from the project (as the project’s creator has it already), but that they’re removing the page from their site, keeping it archived only in a special “look at this fucking fuck-up” page for transparency’s sake. They are also issuing a blanket ban on “seduction guides,” because they understand them to promote dangerous attitudes towards women. Plus, they’re donating $25,000 to anti-sexual violence organization RAINN:
Third, we are prohibiting “seduction guides,” or anything similar, effective immediately. This material encourages misogynistic behavior and is inconsistent with our mission of funding creative works. These things do not belong on Kickstarter.
Fourth, today Kickstarter will donate $25,000 to an anti-sexual violence organization calledRAINN. It’s an excellent organization that combats exactly the sort of problems our inaction may have encouraged.
As apologies go, I think this one is truly sincere and amazing. It’s important for an organization to be able to admit when it was wrong and learn from its mistakes, and this makes me think Kickstarter’s heart is definitely in the right place.