Imgur Community Manager Says She Received Death Threats After Enforcing Guidelines

When Imgur started enforcing its community rules this week, some of its users protested. Others took it too far.

Imgur Community Manager Says She Received Death Threats After Enforcing Guidelines
[Screenshots: via Imgur]

Image-based social network Imgur, first started as a pet project by its founder Alan Schaaf, is starting to grow up as a business. The company recently beefed up its mobile presence and announced a plan to introduce native ads early next year.


Its community, though, might not be so ready to grow up yet.

When the social network began enforcing its community guidelines earlier this week by removing obscene and sexually explicit comments from its comments section–a move that makes sense considering that it is now courting advertisers–some users protested by taking over its homepage. Images on the homepage are the most popular on the site, and on Tuesday, Mic reports, many of them were the same black protest poster.

“Removing all NSFW comments is bad,” many of the posters read. “If it’s marked NSFW that’s what it means. We want NSFW comments back.”

Imgur’s community manager, Sarah Schaaf, responded to the revolt in her own Imgur post. She said that the community rules have always banned NSFW content, but that they were rarely enforced, and when the company did take down posts or ban users, it did so in a way that wasn’t visible to other users. “That didn’t feel very transparent or honest,” she wrote in her post. “Now, Imgur is a much larger team (we have sixty five people working here), and the resources to respond to user reports has gone up. To increase the transparency around what’s being done, when a comment has been removed you’ll see a little blurb about why.” She reiterated that comments would only be removed if they had been reported multiple times by other users.

In the wake of this message, Schaaf says she is being harassed and threatened. “I always want to be a voice for you guys, but I’m also a real person and I kindly ask that the death threats and personal insults stop,” she wrote in one image thread. That comment received dozens of positive messages of support, which ultimately helped reinforce Schaaf’s faith in the Imgur community, she tweeted:

In response, some images on the front page of Imgur–which just a day ago was filled with protest images–now include apologies. “I’m so sorry that some Imgurians can’t have a civil discussion,” reads one. “We love you.”

About the author

Sarah Kessler is a senior writer at Fast Company, where she writes about the on-demand/gig/sharing "economies" and the future of work.