Offensive Runes?

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Word has been spreading like wildfire through Heathen/Asatru Internet communities that the MySpace social networking site is now considering the display of runic symbols to be offensive and against the company’s terms of service.

“So this image is offensive, according to myspace. So its ok to have pornographic images and default pics of guys holding guns and masks? Please feel free to use this image in protest of these ridiculous regulations and REPOST so all can see this!!! Keep messaging myspace also; to show them we are still fighting the religion option…”

Old English Futhorc runes.

From what I have been able to figure out, the outcry started when a MySpace petition profile (now switched to a closed/private profile) to expand the religious labels for Pagan MySpacers beyond “Wiccan” or “Other” had its profile image removed by administrators due to its “offensive” nature. Since then there have been claims that other Heathen/Asatru profiles also had their runic symbols taken down.

“Recent whispers through out the Myspace Asatruar community, as of today, have several pictures removed from peoples profile where upon Runic symbols are present. Apparently it is now against the TOS here to use Runes to decorate the pages. I do rather suspect that this is due to those that use our symbols for hate agendas. With that said perhaps Myspace TOS staff need to educated themselves instead of pilfering intolerance based on ignorance!”

It is unclear at this point if this was a move solely on the part of MySpace administrators, or a response to individual user complaints (any MySpace user can report “offensive” content with the click of a button). The petition site has put its offending image back up (though, as I mentioned before, the page is now listed as “private”), and it remains to be seen if this was an isolated incident or if MySpace is now conflating the use of runes by some racist groups with the more benign uses by the larger Asatru/Heathen community. We will have to wait and see what develops in the near future.