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Gawker Addresses Jezebel’s Rape Gif Issue

The female-skewing site’s parent company bows to pressure from its own employees

Two days after Gawker Media employees called out their management for failing to stop rape images from appearing on the company’s Jezebel site, Gawker has addressed the issue.

On Tuesday, Gawker introduced a temporary fix by disabling image uploads in the comments below posts. The company went even further Wednesday. Jezebel editor-in-chief Jessica Coen wrote that the company has reintroduced a pending comment system, wherein comments by top-tier commenters will be easily visible, but those by others will not be. It’s a return to a system Jezebel used before a company-wide redesign.

Also read: Gawker Media Changes Policies in Wake of Jezebel’s Scathing Open Letter

“Only comments from approved commenters — those who are followed by Jezebel — will automatically be visible,” Coen wrote. “There will also be a pending comment queue; comments in the pending queue are visible to readers, but only if they choose to see them. Users will have to proactively click ‘see all’ to know what lies beyond; there will be a clear warning that a reader is wading into wild west territory and doing so at their own risk. Approved commenters will have the ability to promote comments out of the pending queue but, again, only if they choose to wade in there. As for replies to readers’ comments, you be notified if something has pending status — but you won’t automatically see that comment in your threads unless you choose to reveal it.”

Employees at the female-skewing Jezebel wrote an open letter Monday complaining about users who used burner accounts to post violent images — including rape-oriented gifs — to troll the site. In the letter, they said they had brought the issue to Gawker Media’s attention months ago, but that it wasn’t given the priority it deserved. They said Gawker worried that attempts to moderate posts might also discourage anonymous tipsters.

Also read: Jezebel Calls Out Parent Company Gawker Media for Refusing to Handle a ‘Rape Gif Problem’

Many Jezebel readers, meanwhile, responded to the violent clips by posting aggressively adorable ones, like the cat picture above, which accompanied Coen’s post Wednesday.

Coen offered a tongue-in-cheek thank you to the troll or trolls who forced the changes.

“The mouth-breathing asshole or assholes behind this deserve a reluctant congrats: A+ trolling job, many headaches induced, ruined a lot of peoples’ days, etc. You’ve given us a stunning example of just how unfathomably ugly the internet can be,” she wrote. “But you, Troll, also did this company a favor: you have forced Gawker Media to give the problem — the state of our commenting system and specifically its failures — the attention it deserves. You’ve actually done some good around here, Troll!”