Fiber Arts Social Networking Site Ravelry Bans Support of Donald Trump and White Supremacy

The crafting site with over 8 million users is one of the largest to implement deplatforming.
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Ravelry, a free social networking site devoted to the fiber arts (knitting , crocheting, weaving, etc.) has announced that they will be banning any and all support of Donald Trump and his administration. The site posted its new policy, writing “We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.”

It’s a surprising turn for any massive social networking site, let alone one devoted to the seemingly apolitical world of fiber arts. Ravelry boasts over 8 million users across all political spectrums, so for them to come out not only against white supremacy, but against Trump himself is a bold and courageous move.

Ravelry’s policy is borrowed from social networking site RPG.net, a role-playing game website that has been online since the mid-90s. Like Ravelry, RPG.net says that it is not anti-conservative, just anti-Trump. Ravelry’s statement reads:

“The following policy announcement is the result of over a year of serious debate by the moderation team. The decision is as close to unanimous as we ever get. It will not be the subject of further debate. We have fully considered the downsides and ultimately decided we have to stay true to our values. We will not pretend that evil isn’t evil, or that it becomes a legitimate difference of political opinion if you put a suit and tie on it.

We are banning support of Donald Trump or his administration on the RPGnet forums. This is because his public comments, policies, and the makeup of his administration are so wholly incompatible with our values that formal political neutrality is not tenable. We can be welcoming to (for example) persons of every ethnicity who want to talk about games, or we can allow support for open white supremacy. Not both. Below will be an outline of the policy and a very incomplete set of citations.

We have a community here that we’ve built carefully over time, and support for elected hate groups aren’t welcome here. We can’t save the world, but we can protect and care for the small patch that is this board.”

This all begs the question that many have been asking since the dawn of social media: why can’t social networking sites get their shit together to ban hate speech and white supremacy? After years of dragging their heels, Facebook only just banned white nationalism a few months ago in the wake of the Christchurch shooter live-streaming his attacks. And it was only last month that the social networking site banned alt-right propagandists like Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos.

Meanwhile, Twitter continues to punt on questions of white supremacy and the proliferation of nazis on its site. CEO Jack Dorsey has repeatedly come under fire for his refusal to do anything about online hate and abuse. It has also been reported that Twitter won’t create algorithms to filter out white supremacist content because doing so would flag conservative politicians.

Perhaps most frustrating is these sites and their users hiding behind the fallacy of the First Amendment. It’s an incorrect and ignorant argument, as private companies are not beholden to freedom of speech. The First Amendment means that we as Americans can openly criticize the government, and suffer no consequences. THAT’S IT.

In the meantime, Ravelry is taking a stand and by doing so, highlighting the cowardice and complicity of other social media sites. I’m not a knitter, but maybe it’s time to start?

(via Ravelry, image: Flickr)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.