Tumblr Makes A Controversial Decision to Remove Adult Content

Popular online platform Tumblr will be banning all adult content from its site starting December 17th. This decision will eradicate porn related communities and alter how the service is used. Included in the ban is sexual content and nudity. This includes photos, videos, and GIFs of human genitalia, female-presenting nipples. Any media involving sexual acts, as well as illustrations. However, there will be exceptions such as nude classical statues and political protests featuring nudity. Furthermore, the text is excluded from this, so erotica will be permitted. Illustrations and art featuring nudity will be allowed, as long as sexual acts aren’t depicted. Breastfeeding and after-birth photos will also still be allowed.

The announcement came days after Tumblr was removed from the Apple iOS App Store because of a child pornography incident. Tumblr has been making changes to its site recently, In August, Tumblr announced new community guidelines that banned revenge porn, hate speech, and posts that glorified school shootings. However, it extends beyond that matter and the company posted in a blog “Adult content will no longer be allowed here.” After December 17th, any explicit posts will be flagged and removed by algorithms. Tumble is emailing users who post adult content that they have been flagged by the algorithms and their content will soon be hidden from view. Posts with pornographic content will be set to private, which will prevent them from being shared or reblogged.

Users have the chance to appeal to Tumblr’s decision in situations where they believe a mistake has been made. Tumblr has admitted that there is a chance the automated tools could make mistakes. It will take a while to completely filter out, as a large bulk of Tumblr posts feature explicit content, and it has become a large identifier for the site. Users who run adult can also export their content before the change takes place in order to save what they have. Explicit blogs will be allowed to remain on the service, but they’ll be heavily censored for all visitors.

“We’ve given serious thought to who we want to be to our community moving forward,” CEO Jeff D’Onofrio says in a blog post. “We’ve realized that in order to continue to fulfill our promise and place in culture, especially as it evolves, we must change.” D’Onofrio says Tumblr weighed the pros and cons thoroughly before making its decision. It also decided not to remove explicit accounts because it wanted to give these accounts a chance to post appropriate content instead.

Many people have complained about this new policy. Many people, like Tumblr user known as Mutabear, was hurt by this because through adult content he was able to safely explore and find himself. Mutabear is out to his friends, family, and acquaintances as gay but not as “kinky.” Instead, that part of his identity lived mostly on Tumblr, where he runs a blog that posts written and visual gay erotica that centers on his kinks. “It was a safe space for me to explore things online that I would not necessarily want to try [in] real life, where that might not be safe realistically. More importantly, it was a way for me to connect with other like-minded people,” Mutabear, who asked not to be named for fear of professional repercussions, said in an interview conducted over email. D’Onofrio claims they have many other solutions. “There is no shortage of sites on the internet that feature adult content. We will leave it to them and focus our efforts on creating the most welcoming environment possible for our community,” he said. That argument will do little to curtail anger over this decision from people who have used Tumblr as a safe place to enjoy, share, and discuss their interest in porn and adult content.