UK

Jezebel Writers Turn On Their Employer Gawker Media Over 'Rape GIF Problem'

12/08/2014 11:33 BST | Updated 12/08/2014 14:59 BST

The staff of US-based women's blog Jezebel have publicly slammed their own bosses for failing to prevent hundreds of GIFs of violent porn and images of gory injuries being posted on their website.

In an extraordinary post yesterday, attributed to all of its staff, Jezebel said its owner Gawker Media had ignored requests to address the troll disturbing images, posted under multiple untraceable "burner" accounts.

Jezebel writers have to look at hundreds of violent rape and injury scenes daily to moderate the comments, which is posing a serious threat to their mental health, according to the post.

jezebel

The posts are "an immediate threat to the mental health of Jezebel's staff and readers"

The Jezebel post - apparently published as a last resort after no action was been taken by Gawker Media - complained that staff were "now required to view and interact with violent pornography and gore as part of our jobs".

"None of us are paid enough to deal with this on a daily basis," it added.

The images are "profoundly upsetting" to Jezebel's readers "who drop by to skim Jezebel with their morning coffee only to see hard core pornography at the bottom of a post about Michelle Obama".

IP addresses aren't recorded on burner accounts, so once an account is blocked manually, the trolls simply immediately signing up for another and post another wave of violent images.

The post claims that their management has ignored "distressed" emails from Jezebel readers for months, and has no plans to enable the blocking of IP addresses, or to record IP addresses of burner accounts.

"Working at Gawker Media is a dream job for many of the women on staff here at Jezebel," the post said. "This is a place that takes chances on developing writers, that has always stood behind us no matter what. But it's time the company had its feet held to the fire."

"In refusing to address the problem, Gawker's leadership is prioritizing theoretical anonymous tipsters over a very real and immediate threat to the mental health of Jezebel's staff and readers," the post said.

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Jezebel is well known for holding media - and women's media in particular - to account, and earlier this year offered $10,000 to anyone who could provide un-retouched photos from Lena Dunham's Vogue cover shoot, which they objected to, saying the Girls actress is "fine just the way she is".

"If this were happening at another website, if another workplace was essentially requiring its female employees to manage a malevolent human pornbot, we'd report the hell out of it here and cite it as another example of employers failing to take the safety of its female employees seriously.

"But it's happening to us. It's been happening to us for months. And it feels hypocritical to continue to remain silent about it."

The anonymous poster or posters recently escalated their activity to posting picture of bloody injuries overlayed with the Jezebel logo.

Their boss, Gawker's editorial director Joel Johnson acknowledged that the writers were "right to call me out" but tweeted that he didn't yet have a solution to the problem, so the results of the protest have yet to be seen.