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After racism controversy, Bluesky sends users personalized apologies

Bluesky, which has struggled with moderation since its launch earlier this year, apologized for failing to protect Black and other marginalized users.

Bluesky’s customer support addressed user concerns about the platform’s failure to moderate racist content in emails. Bluesky users shared emails that seemed personalized.

Bluesky did not confirm that it sent apology emails to complainants or answer question about why the company apologized in private emails but not in public statements.

“Seems like each respondent is writing their own unique email, which is very weird because their information isn’t quite consistent,” journalist Erin Biba wrote in a post. “Also, the language here seems stronger than their public announcements.”

The platform’s latest mistake allowed users to use racial slurs in their account handles, angering Bluesky users who were already frustrated with the site’s racism and anti-Blackness. Many users went on a “posting strike” until the platform added safeguards to flag slurs and other offensive terms in account usernames. Bluesky users had been protesting hate speech and other violent threats against marginalized groups for weeks before the sitewide protest.

After the backlash, Bluesky removed many racist, ableist, and transphobic words from its flagged list.

Bluesky then updated its terms of service and community guidelines to prohibit “targeting people based on their race, gender, religion, ethnicity, nationality, disability, or sexual orientation.” It did not respond to comments asking if its trust and safety team would use humans instead of automated moderation.

Bluesky condemned racism and harassment on the platform in a follow-up thread and pledged moderation. Many users were upset that the platform didn’t apologize to Black and other marginalized users.

Bluesky customer support explicitly apologized for platform controversies in emails responding to user feedback. Users posted about receiving emails all week. Each email used different language and templates.

Bluesky customer support apologized to Monica Rose in an email. Bluesky’s moderation team was “actively investigating the reported user and their username” and promised “appropriate action” in the email. Monica Rose noted that the email arrived 10 days after Bluesky publicly addressed the racial slurs.

Biba wrote that Bluesky’s next steps are inconsistent in the emails. Bluesky customer support replied that the company is “actively considering the formation of a dedicated trust and safety team.”

“This team will be responsible for implementing measures to prevent the use of offensive language, including slurs, and ensuring a safer space for all users,” the email Biba received said.

Other emails stated that Bluesky is creating a trust and safety team, not just considering it.

We hear you. Bluesky customer support emailed voraciousviolet, “We are building a dedicated Trust and Safety team to protect marginalized users and ensure a safe environment for all on our network.”

“Educational resources to raise awareness about the impact of racism and discrimination” and content filter updates were also announced in the email.

The email to writer Joshua Friedman apologized for “any impression that Bluesky has been perceived as hostile or indifferent to Black people and other minorities.” Friedman’s Bluesky customer support email didn’t mention a trust and safety team. The email promised “immediate and long-term solutions to combat racism, offensive behavior, and any forms of discrimination on Bluesky” by strengthening moderation.

We value diversity in platform design. “We are actively working on fostering greater diversity within our management team to ensure a better understanding of the needs and concerns of all our users,” the email to Friedman said. “We listen and engage with our community, especially Black people, journalists, artists, academics, and other marginalized groups.”

The email to voraciousviolet directly mentioned Bluesky software engineer aliafonzy, also known as Aveta, who has spoken out against anti-Blackness and hate speech. Bluesky “committed to issuing an apology to all affected users,” including Aveta, for “any harm caused” by its “failure to implement adequate safety measures,” according to the email.

Aveta, who feared more harassment on the platform, was skeptical. On Tuesday, she posted on Bluesky that Bluesky has not apologized to her.

“But it’s a step in the right direction,” she wrote.


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