The Snappening

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Event
Event: The Snappening, Tumblr Purge 2018, The Purge
Participants: Tumblr
Date(s): August 2018 -
Type:
Fandom: multifandom
URL:
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A screenshot of a copyright infringement notice sent to a Tumblr user during the Snappening.
Similar Occurrences

For other incidents in which platforms used by fan communities have cracked down on fanworks, discussion by fans, and fansites with "inappropriate" content, see:

For a more general related topic, see List of Content Banned by Archives.

The Snappening is one of the increasingly common ways[1][2][3] to refer to the ongoing mass deletion of fan blogs[4] on Tumblr (ostensibly for copyright infringement). Update blogs posting photographs of celebrities have been affected, and it seems that fans creating edits or photosets (i.e., moodboards) that include identifiable images from events, red carpets, sets, and other paparazzi photos might also be at risk, particularly if their graphics do not substantially transform or edit the original image.[5]

While this purge appears to be affecting accounts from various fandoms (including One Direction blogs[6]), the Marvel Cinematic Universe fandom has been particularly active in discussing and distributing information about it, and several high-profile MCU blogs have been affected.[7]

Anonymous: why are blogs being deleted?

an incredible number of blogs have been terminated in the past few days for copyright violation. they were targeted for posting edits (photos) of celebrities - mostly candids and event photos. people have been issued DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notices via email as tumblr is supposed to have a three strike copyright violation policy - although i have heard from some people that they were not given any strikes and were terminated without warning.

Several news and photo agencies have enlisted the services of a third party agency called Okularity which uses advanced image recognition software to identify edits that people have posted on tumblr which use copyrighted material. Tumblr is taking immediate action to terminate these blogs to protect their own asses as they are protected by a tiny little loophole in the DMCA. the DMCA protects web hosts and websites like Facebook, Twitter, etc… as long as they comply with DMCA notices and make reasonable efforts to stop copyright infringement. this protects them from being slammed with the infringement lawsuits themselves.[8]

General consensus amongst fans suggests that the purge began with blogs that had posted paparazzi photos from the agencies Backgrid and Splash News, which were apparently using a third-party reverse image search service called Okularity to identify infringing posts on Tumblr.[9][10] Fans began noticing the absence of certain blogs on their dash.[11] Early posts on the purge date to August 6, 2018.[12]

Fans also reported that similar purges were ongoing on Twitter[13] and Instagram.[14]

Some individuals received copyright infringement strikes[15]; some blogs have been deleted.[16] There appears to be a three-strike policy in place,[17] but some Tumblr users have reported that blogs have been deleted without receiving three strikes.[18][19]

As many fans have noted, this is not the first similar purge on Tumblr.[20]

Origins of the Name

this is one of those historic Tumblr Events™ people will talk about in a few years and the younglings will have no idea what it means

#are we really calling it the snappening? #really? #ok[21]

"The Snappening" (or "The Snap") is a reference to the events of Avengers: Infinity War. MCU fans began riffing off the name as details of the purge emerged.

anonymous asked: Fan theory: all these mass blog deletions is a marvel pr move to promote A4. All these blogs that were snapped away I’ll make a full and glorious come back just like our fallen heroes. And when they do, we will get the A4 title announced

@marvelentertainment sis if its you then please stop you’ve gone too far[22]

this tumblr mass deletion thing is like the avengers infinity war of the internet[23]
This whole blogs getting deleted thing? Thanos is really out here achieving his dream y’all. Poof.[24]

tumblr users: literally use this site religiously despite the multitude of issues that staff refuses to recognize, basically pays the staffs wages

Staff: lol alexa play The Snap by Thanos[25]

Scope of the Purge

Fans quickly began sharing information about the scope of the purge. As the situation unfolds, information is revised or repudiated; for example, it was initially thought that warnings for content posted to your sideblog would not escalate to a deletion of your main blog, but that appears to be either untrue or no longer the case.[26]

It appears generally true that only original posts are considered infringing - reblogs, even reblogs of your own original post that is subsequently deleted, seem to be safe.[27] Gifs are not affected.[28] Initially, it seemed that "paparazzi photos, events, red carpets and set photos...However now it is rumored to be extended to other stuff like celebrity photoshoots etc."[29][30]

The purge is not limited to US American users, nor is it restricted to a particular fandom or celebrity.[31][32]

Fans Take Protective Measures

Many fans quickly took measures to protect their blogs, including the following:[33]

  • hiding their blog (so it's viewable only in the Tumblr dash);
  • opting to remove their blog from search engine results;
  • marking their blog as explicit (which limits access to logged-in users with safe mode off);
  • password-protecting their blog;
  • changing their username (and saving the original URL)[34];
  • deleting original posts with potentially at-risk content;
  • deleting posts with general information about the purge

Informational posts detailing specific practices for protecting blogs from the purge were shared heavily on Tumblr[35]; several users with particularly popular posts subsequently deleted their original post or took additional measures to protect their blogs out of concern of reprisal.

Protective Measures:
i got my blog terminated last year for copyright infringement basically for posting candids of celebs, my tips for those who are still posting
  • dont post the original hq photo, they’re much easier to track down
  • if you edit, change dimensions, cut some parts, use brightness and other stuff to make it look different than the original, some paps sell photos to different agencies so that way itll be harder to identify
  • dont use the same caption as the source agency you took that photo from, it’s easier to be found
  • from my experience, once they find one post of yours, either its old or new, they’ll be checking your blog constantly so if you got at least one warning from tumblr be careful, change captions or delete your posts, save your url and dont post this kind of stuff on your main blog cause theyll come after you and after 3 strikes your blog will be deleted
  • be careful yall[37]

Exporting Data

Several fans also pointed out that Tumblr users could export their data as a way of preserving their content in advance of a blog deletion.[38] At least one fan specifically linked this to the right of access protected by GDPR.[39]

More Than Just A Copyright Issue

While much of the conversation surrounding the purge has focused on the practicalities of sharing information about the purge (and particularly tips to protect blogs from strikes or deletion), some fans have begun to post meta and analysis about the place of the purge within a larger history of fan communities in conflict with digital platforms and websites.

this is more than just copyright violation fiasco, or as people started calling it the snappening aka blogpocolyspe aka fuck everything, let’s move to Pillowfort.

First of all, let’s examine why what’s happening is happening: Blog are being deleted because of DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) violations — supposedly, people get take down notices via email with a three strike policy, but I’ve heard some blogs were terminated without warning. Agency sites have been using a third-party software, Okularity [ Our entire team is based in Los Angeles, California. We’ve spent over seven years perfecting software designed to accurately and reliably find, match, and ultimately secure your likeness, images, photography, and video at little cost to you. We’re your image experts and we’re passionate about valuing your content and likeness as much as you do. ] which reserve-searches images and identifies edits on tumblr, which are then taken down by staff and results in blog termination as a way of tumblr to protect itself from getting bombarded with copyright infringement lawsuits.

Second of all, let’s examine why photographers and agencies are filling copyright complaints. We all raise arms when people slight artists and steal their work, when gifs made by gifmakers are ‘found on google’ and reposted, when people plagiarise fanfiction — these are infringements on our intellectual property. Logic stands, we should also understand and care why agencies file copyright complaints; they are protecting their livelihoods. (Moral grey area of how paparazzi photos in themselves are a violation of privacy aside.) Except, we clearly don’t care. Why? Because it doesn’t concern us directly. These photographers are abstract concepts which threaten our blogs and their existence, so we choose not to give to craps about them. Which is fair, and someone pointed out it’s hypocritical, but it’s more complicated than that. There are no good answers to this part of the argument. At one hand, imagine if you were one of these photographers and your livelihood was infringed upon like this. On the other hand, there’s a great big fucking difference between artists demanding big companies stop exploiting them and stealing their ideas; and blogs being terminated because tumblr is afraid of loosing money to lawsuits. It’s an underdog scenario, and we’re the underdogs, clearly rooting for ourselves.

(TL;DR: Copyright laws are a fucking nightmare. We both need them and detest them because they can be exploited by entities with deep pockets. Don’t come @ me, but Copyright Laws of South Korea are the fucking worst and easily exploitable and that’s the tea.)

Third of all, there have been arguments that pictures that underwent editing change — change of dimensions, colouring, brightness, etc. — should be reviewed as transformative works and be protected by copyright same as gifs and YouTube videos are. My answer is this: Don’t ask me this, I have no idea. I’m a physicist, not a lawyer, much less one who specialises in copyright laws. Someone more knowledgeable than me needs to address this issue.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the thing I did want to talk about: Tumblr Staff.

Again, it’s obvious why tumblr is taking such firm action with these copyright violation notices than it does with anything else people on this platform have been bombarding them about for eons — MONEY. Lawsuits cost money and tumblr ain’t about that life.

This platform is riddled with white supremacists, pedophiles, porn blogs, and a variety of other Undesirables #1, who do way more damage to the platform in general, but they don’t cost tumblr the company anything so they are sleeping on them.

Not to mention the variety of shitty things about this app in general: from the glitches to the ineffective privacy settings, from the goddamn data-mining to the old urls being kept by non-active blogs. General upkeep on tumblr is very poor, -100000000/10, would not recommend.

Now, one can argue that one should dismarry the staff from the parent company. Maybe tumblr the platform is The Hobbit Trilogy; maybe Yahoo and Oath is the collective studio presence of Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, WingNut Film, The Saul Zaents Company, and even, ugh, The Weinstein Company; maybe the staff is Peter Jackson of this; maybe we’re all are just New Zealanders of this affair, and it will all end as badly for as The Hobbit Law had for New Zealand. Maybe I’m fucking reaching with my analogy. Who knows? Certainly not me.

[update: I’m not shading Peter Jackson, I’m shading the studios involved in the Hobbit movies. Peter Jackson fought to keep production in New Zealand, but the studios ultimately fucked New Zealanders over. The great The Hobbit issue isn’t about Peter Jackson, it’s about big companies throwing their weight around and profiting more out of exploitations of others.]

And why is that? Oh, yeah, because I’m not the goddamn staff. 99% of us aren’t. Everything that I say or you read by other bloggers isn’t 100% of the situation because we don’t know the full situation. Everything you read above and will see below I have extrapolated from my own research into the current situation, but again, I’m not the The Eye of Sauron, I don’t know everything. And why is that? Because the staff hasn’t released a fucking statement, hasn’t told us anything, it has just been turning this hellsite into the last 15 minutes of Infinity War and sowing mass-panic.

Now, not for me to tell @staff how to run their platform — except, no, I’m a user of this platform, and I’m issuing a complaint.

I admin a couple of discord servers and whenever we do anything, we put out announcements that we changed thing A and did thing B. If people are dissatisfied, they tell us their concerns and if they are reasonable, we change thing B to thing C to satisfy them. Now, tumblr is hella of a lot bigger than discord server of 300+ members, but at the same time, the staff isn’t composed of three admins and a handful of mods. My point is: Transparency is paramount. Even as an administrator you do things that people won’t like, you gotta go and tell them you’re doing them so they’ll be aware of what the fuck is going on.

Ignorance breeds fear which breeds mass-panic. And what do we have currently on tumblr? A fucking epidemic of fear.

So tumblr is might be threaten with copyright infringement lawsuits, so they are taking actions to protect themselves from that by issuing copyright violation notices and terminating blogs. Okay, we don’t like it, but even if we don’t, tumblr should have told us about it instead of acting like a ghoul in the night, snatching blogs out of their cribs, and terminating them.

Tumblr should have issued a statement telling us what was happening, what should we do and how can we avoid termination, and what we should do to correct our behaviour and avoid being red-flagged. Generally, idk, tell us what the fuck they have been doing and why. Currently, all the information circling tumblr is gathered post-fact after blogs have been terminated and panic has spread. But what do I know? I’m just a dumbass with a computer, same as most of us. If we were any different, we’d be dumbasses on a mobile and on Twitter instead.

TL;DR: Ultimately, we’re being fucked over. This isn’t just about the latest copyright-prompted fiasco — there has been a long standing problem of how staff and the cooprorate overlords keep treating us like shit and we. keep. taking. it. It’s as if this is a humiliation, revenge-fantasy-fulfillment fic, but we’re the ones revenge is being executed upon.[40]

Tumblr Acts On Copyright Infringement, But They Do Nothing About...

Many Tumblr users have criticized the site for devoting energy and resources to penalizing fans for sharing content while seemingly gaining little traction against the rampant spambots, porn blogs, and hate speech on Tumblr.[41][42][43][44]

so staff will not work on the terrible porn bot problem but instead randomly delete people over photographs they’ve edited? i really hate this fucking website[45]
they won’t delete neo-nazi groups and pedophiles. they’d rather focus all their attention on the real menace to society, copyright infrictions of celebrity pictures taken by paparazzis[46]
instead of supporting this dumbass gif maker purging scheme[47], how about you purge all the porn bots and spam blogs and literal pedophiles and racists? they’re the only problems on this hell site and THEY are the blogs that need to get snapped.[48]
I mean, the reason tungle IS terminating blogs with celebrity edits and NOT terminating n@zi blogs, bots, and porn blogs is really pretty simple tbh: money.

The people who own the paparazzi photos and want them taken down are probably threatening a lawsuit and/or copy right infringement. Lawsuits mean money; and because tumblr was the publishing platform, they would definitely be listed as a party to the suit and could potentially be held liable

While white supremacists and bots and porno blogs cause infinitely more problems and do far more damage to the tumblr community in general, they aren't actually costing tumblr anything. So tumblr doesn't give a fuck.

Tumblr doesn't care about protecting their users, they care about protecting themselves and their assets.[49]

Relationship to Other Purges of Fan Accounts

Some fans have referenced past events like Strikethrough in their conversations about the purge:

A number of blogs (primarily update accounts but it has impacted smaller blogs too) are being terminated without warning for violating copyright restrictions on pap shots. It looks like Backgrid and SplashNews are using a third party reverse image system to see where their pics have been reposted and are then reporting blogs for copyright violations. From what I can gather this is impacting blogs whose original posts (not reblogs) feature pap shots owned by those two agencies, including edits of those shots. So far a bunch of update accounts have been terminated, some are remaking, some are not, but even for those blogs to remake (THANK YOU!) it’s a huge amount of work, effort, followers and so on gone without warning. There are some advice posts about how you might want to protect your own blog if you are concerned, just do a little digging around. I get there are copyright issues involved in this, but I still think it sucks, the same way I think cease and desists suck, strikethrough sucked, boldthrough sucked and ff.net deleting a whole load of explicit fics sucked, even though all of those issues are different, they still ended up resulting, slowly but surely, in fandom migration to other platforms when it became untenable to stay on a platform that no longer worked for fandom practices. I appreciate the huge effort that goes into maintaining update accounts for fandom’s enjoyment and I’m really sorry to see fan run blogs disappearing because of this.[50]

References

  1. Tumblr post. Posted on August 12, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  2. Tumblr post. Posted on August 11, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  3. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  4. Tumblr post. Posted on August 11, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  5. Tumblr post. Posted on August 7, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  6. Tumblr post. Posted on August 7, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  7. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  8. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  9. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  10. Tumblr post. Posted on August 7, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  11. Tumblr post. Posted on August 9, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  12. Tumblr post. Posted on August 6, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  13. Tumblr post. Posted on August 7, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  14. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  15. Tumblr post. Posted on August 11, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  16. Tumblr post. Posted on August 7, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  17. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  18. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  19. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  20. Tumblr post. Posted on August 11, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  21. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  22. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  23. Tumblr post. Posted on/around August 9, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Viewable by logged-in users only. Archived from a publicly viewable reblog on August 13, 2018.
  24. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  25. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  26. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  27. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  28. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  29. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  30. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  31. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  32. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Access on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  33. Note: Many of these protective measures make it difficult to document this event as it unfolds.
  34. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  35. Tumblr post. Posted on August 7, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Viewable by logged-in users with safe mode off only. Archived from a publicly viewable reblog on August 13, 2018.
  36. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  37. Tumblr post. Posted on August 9, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  38. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  39. Tumblr post. Posted on August 7, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  40. Tumblr post. Posted on August 11, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  41. Tumblr post. Posted on August 11, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  42. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  43. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  44. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  45. Tumblr post. Posted on August 7, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  46. Tumblr post. Posted on/around August 7, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Viewable by logged-in users only Archived from a publicly viewable reblog on August 13, 2018.
  47. Note: Other sources reported that gifs were actually safe from the purge. It's unclear if this user was aware of a specific strike against or deletion of an account for an infraction related to posting gifs. Contradictory, inaccurate, and outdated information has spread across Tumblr as users scrambled to figure out the scope of the purge, so it's certainly possible. The user may have also been referring colloquially/casually to "gif makers," but really referencing the types of infractions described by other users.
  48. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  49. Tumblr post. Posted on August 10, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.
  50. Tumblr post. Posted on August 8, 2018. Accessed on August 13, 2018. Archived on August 13, 2018.