berries.space

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Community
Name: berries.space
Date(s): 4th December 2018 - 4th May 2019
Moderator: espeon, atomikebonpyre, demonicnoble, gen, symbiote, moonprincessjewel, illuminatedbeehive, snubbull, corrin
Founder: estroqueen
Type: Mastodon instance
Fandom: panfandom
URL: berries.space
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The header for the berries.space Mastodon, created by estroqueen
An example of Berrychan and her friend Cranberry, drawn by jeffthekinner.

berries.space was a pan-fandom Mastodon instance, focused on diversity. It was one of the first mastodon instances to be started in response to the Tumblr NSFW Content Purge, and was initially created by estroqueen.

Opening

[estroqueen]

As we have all seem within the past several years, Tumblr has been progressively getting worse, with the advent of porn bots taking over the website, to the now recent ban of all NSFW content. It is clear that the staff have completely lost control.

That’s why I started up a social media site that uses the mastodon code as its base called berries! Berries is located at berries.space and is completely run by me and a soon to be decided group of moderators.

berries.space was announced by estroqueen on December 4th, and grew exponentially during the coming months as fans and other Tumblr users left Tumblr and joined the community.[1] estroqueen later left the instance and started up webfru.it.

Despite being popular with fans from Tumblr, the instance limited certain types of fannish content - RPF was explicitly banned, as were certain tropes such as incest (even in fictional situations where the characters in question were not related) and NSFW content featuring "aged up" characters. NSFW furry content was considered zoophilia and also banned.[2]

Despite being a Mastodon instance, the instance had strong cultural roots in Tumblr. The instance's logo was often anthropomorphized into Berrychan, who was considered a trans lesbian. Some users made her friends and girlfriends, such as Strawchan and Cranberry. There were also memes regarding #berriescon, an imaginary convention inspired by the failure of Dashcon, which included a berry ballpit.

Closure

On May 4th, 2019, the moderators of the instance announced that berries.space would be closing, and suggested that users move to other instances. [3] In the Google Docs notice, the main reason cited was stress regarding the running of berries.space, which the moderators admitted had caused mistakes within both moderating and the organization of the instance. Registrations to the instance was blocked, with a notice that the instance would shut down within a couple of weeks.

Archiving

Despite being a home for minority teens, berries.space was a public instance and did not explicitly ban archiving, nor did it edit its robots.txt or engage any privacy protocols to stop archive crawlers. Following its closure, a collective of archivists known as Archive Team archived every public post on berries.space via the Wayback Machine. This caused some drama in the community, with users protesting the invasion of privacy, and the fact that Archive Team did not ask the consent of users before archiving.

[kaniini]
data availability does not mean consent is granted to third parties to process the published data in any way they wish.

this especially includes longterm archival of people's personal lives.

if archive team archived the entirety of google plus, it would be a scandal.[4]

[sophia]
Techbros have downloaded and created an archive of all the public posts from berries.space, believing it's fine because people can opt-out.

Photos, discussions (including things like coming out, discussing being LGBT)... And this was an instance with a lot of teenagers on it.

They did not consent to this. [5]

[ilja]

@DashEquals @kaniini We just had elections and the party that consists of literal nazis just got the biggest party here... and this is a general trend all over the world. You honestly think there is no problem with storing posts and making them searchable like that with the knowledge that these kind of parties are gaining traction?

In the '20's no one thought it was a bad idea to have the religion of every inhabitant stored in the towns records. People express their religion, so it's public anyhow, right? Yet, I assume we all know what happened once the nazi's got elected

Several users defended the archiving of berries.space by Archive Team.

[DashEquals]

> preservation of people posting about whether or not they are gay or trans is not knowledge worthy of preservation

That's your opinion, based off of what we currently know. In the 1900's, we thought that "preservation of films isn't knowledge worthy of preservation". Now, people would love to see those old films, but they can't, because no one thought they were important.

We're trying to avoid that. Who knows what people in the future might want to see from our time?[6]

[Flashfire42]

This is beautiful. You do realize that if you care enough about it that you can request a url be excluded from wayback quite easily. I can see where you are coming from I really do but did you never learn once it is on the net it is there forever. That has been taught for as long as the internet has been public accessible. ArchiveTeam may have gone about it the wrong way sometimes but I would rather the preservation be done the wrong way than not at all. You can argue semantics all day but the preservation of knowledge is important. Even if it is stupid false knowledge.

[...]

@kaniini @DashEquals If archiveteam is to leave it alone then it needs to not be shutdown at a whim of somebody higher up. I understand what you are saying it is a breach of privacy but a lot of people post stuff they want saved here. Its a difficult problem that has no clear answer. Lets leave personal attacks out of it. That goes for the both of you. I was enjoying the debate aside from the insults. Also let me remind you ArchiveTeam is a ROGUE band of archivists.

[cancennau]

i sypathize with folk who are concerned about privacy issues with the archiving of berries.space but also...i'm on the side of the archivists here

berries.space is an invaluable resource of queer culture. it may not seem important to you to have someone archive users yelling "I'M GAY", but having that archived means that future gay folk look back and say "that's what we were like back then!". And that is something incredibly important to me, because I currently don't have that luxury. There is very little saved regarding queer people in my country and in my communities, and I don't have the ability to see what queer people in my communities looked like. having an archive of "dumb posts" made by queer folk is an amazing resource for daily online lives! [7]

A former admin of berries.space, corrin, confirmed that consent had not been sought from the berries.space team, and they intended to take action.

[corrin]

hey, i'm one of the former admins of berries (and the one who handled all the financials/still owns the domain). this is absolutely not acceptable and the former admin team will be taking action as soon as we figure out the proper channels.

mastodon HAS an archive function and we made it very clear to users how to use it in the days before the site went down. anyone who wanted an archive of their posts would have downloaded them already. berries had A LOT of minors who didn't give any kind of consent to have their posts archived. berries also had a lot of artists and content creators and their work is now also archived without their consent.

@kaniini @DashEquals our github fork still exists: https://github.com/corrinr/mastodon why didn't you open an issue there to request that the instance be archived? or find one of the former admins on an alt to contact us directly?

this is a decision that directly impacts the 2000 former users, but also anyone whose posts were federated to berries. of those users, hundreds were LGBT minors, many of whom lived in situations where it was unsafe for them to be out. almost everyone on the instance was marginalized in some way or another and spoke about their experiences with marginalization. the majority of us were also mentally ill and this is going to cause paranoia and anxiety among, again, LGBT children, many of whom are people of color, because this was, again, done in secret and without consent.

please give me the correct contact info to request an immediate takedown of the archive.[8]

Despite claims made by corrin, the berries.space admin team did not post instructions on how to use the mastodon archive service on the official berries.space admin account, nor in the farewell GDoc. The official berries.space moderator account only posted instructions hours before the instance was due to close, and after most of the users had left. Most of the instance's moderators and admins did not post about archiving - although a boost was made by illuminatedbeehive of a user's instructions on how to request an archive.[9]

The drama expanded into both discussions on archiving and into wank and personal insults. On May 28th 2019, the Wayback Machine removed the berries.space archive. Jason, an archivist from Archive Team, apologised for the way DashEquals behaved in response to concerns and criticism about berries.space being archived.[10] DashEquals was removed from Archive Team, and also posted their own apology for misrepresenting Archive Team.[11]

References

  1. Tumblr, Archived version (alternate archive)
  2. Mastodon, Archived version (alternate archive)
  3. Mastodon, Archived version (alternate archive)
  4. Pleroma, Archived version
  5. Mastodon, Archived version
  6. Mastodon, Archived version
  7. Mastodon, Archived version
  8. Mastodon, Archived version (alternate archive)
  9. Mastodon, Archived version
  10. Twitter, Archived version
  11. Mastodon, Archived version