BuzzFeed has decided to update its guidelines for community contributor posts after facing controversy last month over running a piece by the anti-abortion group Personhood USA. It has also pulled the piece in question.
When Personhood USA’s listicle, titled “8 Outrageous Things Planned Parenthood Was Caught Doing,” was first published on the site, online feminists jumped to question what the community contributors guidelines were, and if Personhood USA’s qualified. It wasn’t the first time: Earlier that month, a community post from the conservative Heritage Foundation confused a sitting US senator into thinking that even the “left-wing” media had turned against Obamacare.
After the controversy over Personhood USA’s post, a BuzzFeed representative told ThinkProgress that the company was “in the process of figuring out where and whether we should draw lines about what’s appropriate on what we conceived as an open platform, like Facebook and Twitter.”
BuzzFeed has now drawn its lines.
A spokesperson there pointed ThinkProgress to an article published last week on paidcontent.org in which BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, confirmed a change in community contributor guidelines, and a new design for indicating community posts. The updated (but still somewhat amorphous) rules instruct users, “Don’t be that guy,” and that “no haters” and “no personal attacks” are allowed.
Personhood USA seems outraged by the change. In a press release on Tuesday, the group said, “Sadly, Buzzfeed capitulated to the pro-choice lobby by shutting down the free press and censoring speech that would dare expose the abortion industry’s horrifying misconduct.”
But it seems that the new guidelines will actually go both ways. BuzzFeed also pulled a listicle titled “5 Reasons Ken Cuccinelli Is Lying About Restricting Birth Control,” by the pro-choice group NARAL Pro-Choice America, after ThinkProgress reached out to ask whether it violated the company’s newly-instated policies.