This week the architecture internet was awash in articles about the temporary shutdown of McMansion Hell after the real estate site Zillow threatened legal action. Today, though, the company announced it has dropped its legal claims against the site’s creator, provided she doesn’t use any more photos from its site.
For those who don’t know, McMansion Hell is a popular blog that skewers amenities-laden mega-homes in suburban America. The site is run by Kate Wagner, a graduate student in acoustics at Johns Hopkins and a self-taught critic. Wagner’s canny insights educate as well as entertain, and the blog has a devoted following in and outside the industry.
In response to Zillow’s threat of legal action, legions of fans took to Twitter (where else) to offer Wagner support and throw shade at Zillow. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that defends digital privacy and free speech, had a salty point-by-point takedown of the company’s claims, calling many of them “highly dubious.”
Sometimes, when the internet speaks, companies listen. This afternoon The Architect’s Newspaper received an emailed statement from Emily Heffter, a public relations manager at Zillow:
We have decided not to pursue any legal action against Kate Wagner and McMansion Hell. We’ve had a lot of conversations about this, including with attorneys from the EFF, whose advocacy and work we respect. EFF has stated that McMansion Hell won’t use photos from Zillow moving forward.
It was never our intent for McMansion Hell to shut down, or for this to appear as an attack on Kate’s freedom of expression. We acted out of an abundance of caution to protect our partners – the agents and brokers who entrust us to display photos of their clients’ homes.
Now everyone can go back to laughing at hilariously bad homes, just in time for the long weekend.