Jun 3, 2015 · 1 minute

Imgur is enforcing for the first time a rule against not-safe-for-work (NSFW) comments. And users accustomed to spouting off however they like aren't happy about it.

The rule has been around for years, however Imgur didn't enforce it. And now that it has, users have created memes protesting the so-called censorship.

Mic reported on Tuesday that many of the site's most-popular images were actually pleas for Imgur to rethink the removal of not-safe-for-work content. Others have taken their complaints to the comments sections of unrelated memes, images, and GIFs.

Imgur has been quick to respond to the backlash. Here is what the director of Imgur's community, Sarah Schaaf, said in response to the mounting calls for the company to reverse its current position on users' objectionable comments:

This is not meant to turn Imgur into a G-rated shell of itself, nor is it meant to bring down a ban hammer on our most active users. We value free speech and self-expression incredibly highly, and the sometimes crass humour, ridiculous puns, and don’t-take-ourselves-too-seriously attitudes make Imgur what it is, and we love this community. There is a place for dickbutt and fine art and weird gifs and information here – nothing will change about that.
It's no surprise that Imgur's users are reacting to the removal of questionable comments in this way -- the service did grow alongside Reddit, after all, and Reddit is currently struggling with allegations of censorship on its own site.

Both sites have said their new rules -- or the enforcement of old rules -- won't be monitored by their teams. Instead, they will rely on their communities, and remove content based on what their users find questionable on the services.

Yet that hasn't stopped their communities from complaining about the policies. As it turns out, building services that stake their success on supporting "free speech" doesn't lend itself to introducing or enforcing rules at a later point.

But that's all right. Reddit and Imgur are doing the right thing to make their services more welcoming to people who might have been intimidated by the communities before these rules were enforced. Better to make that happen than to capitulate to bullies who want to harass people without repercussion.

[photo by Rasande Tyskar]