Kickstarter Accidentally Allowed A Misogynistic Project, And Its Apology Was Perfect

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Kickstarter released a public apology on its blog today for allowing a project that promoted violence against women to remain on its site.

The project was for a "seduction guide" called "Above The Game" full of tips that were supposedly guaranteed to make a woman sleep with a man. Except that a lot of the tips, which were published in excerpts on Reddit, were extremely violent towards women. (We'll spare you the details.)

The whole thing blew up after a comedian named Casey Malone posted it to his blog.

Unfortunately, Kickstarter didn't catch on in time, and the project met its funding goal. The person who created the project got all his money.

As a result, Kickstarter has removed the page (it usually keeps project pages up even after they've met their funding goals) and instituted a new policy banning projects similar to the seduction guide. Comments on the company blog are extremely positive. You can tell the Kickstarter community appreciates the company's openness.

But there are some seduction guides still on Kickstarter right now, like this one. We've reached out to Kickstarter and will update if we hear back.

Here's the full text of Kickstarter's apology:

Dear everybody,

On Wednesday morning Kickstarter was sent a blog post quoting disturbing material found on Reddit. The offensive material was part of a draft for a “seduction guide” that someone was using Kickstarter to publish. The posts offended a lot of people — us included — and many asked us to cancel the creator’s project. We didn’t.

We were wrong.

Why didn’t we cancel the project when this material was brought to our attention? Two things influenced our decision:

  • The decision had to be made immediately. We had only two hours from when we found out about the material to when the project was ending. We’ve never acted to remove a project that quickly. 
  • Our processes, and everyday thinking, bias heavily toward creators. This is deeply ingrained. We feel a duty to our community — and our creators especially — to approach these investigations methodically as there is no margin for error in canceling a project. This thinking made us miss the forest for the trees.

These factors don’t excuse our decision but we hope they add clarity to how we arrived at it.

Let us be 100% clear: Content promoting or glorifying violence against women or anyone else has always been prohibited from Kickstarter. If a project page contains hateful or abusive material we don’t approve it in the first place. If we had seen this material when the project was submitted to Kickstarter (we didn’t), it never would have been approved. Kickstarter is committed to a culture of respect.

Where does this leave us?

First, there is no taking back money from the project or canceling funding after the fact. When the project was funded the backers’ money went directly from them to the creator. We missed the window.

Second, the project page has been removed from Kickstarter. The project has no place on our site. For transparency’s sake, a record of the page is cached here.

Third, we are prohibiting “seduction guides,” or anything similar, effective immediately. This material encourages misogynistic behavior and is inconsistent with our mission of funding creative works. These things do not belong on Kickstarter.

Fourth, today Kickstarter will donate $25,000 to an anti-sexual violence organization called RAINN. It’s an excellent organization that combats exactly the sort of problems our inaction may have encouraged.

We take our role as Kickstarter’s stewards very seriously. Kickstarter is one of the friendliest, most supportive places on the web and we’re committed to keeping it that way. We’re sorry for getting this so wrong.

Thank you,

Kickstarter



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