Tumblr has managed to occupy a seat in the pantheons of internet culture websites since its launch in 2007. The platform garnered enormous fandom due to the content that was shared on it – and is regarded as one of the essential culture websites on the internet for gaining information alongside Reddit. The variety of content shared on Tumblr was immense – from lesser-known news articles, new memes, and of course, pornography and adult content. However, Tumblr has now announced that it would ban explicit visual content starting 17th December, and users whose content would be affected by the change is set to receive a ‘heads-up” from them in advance.
The announcement was made by Tumblr CEO Jeff D’Onofrio after the app was removed from App Store in November 2018 for bearing child pornography on a number of private blogs. The ban includes sex acts, nudity and “female-presenting nipples”, although pictures of mothers breastfeeding their child would still be allowed. The algorithms of Tumblr would detect in case any post constitute the ban materials, as users who upload them would be notified. Users can send an appeal against their post being mistakenly tagged by the algorithm and persistent upload of adult content can get a user banned indefinitely.
The move was highly criticized by the freewheeling Tumblr community, who blamed the constant shift in management responsible for the decision. The website was acquired by Yahoo in 2013, and was later acquired later by Verizon for its ad businesses. As Tumblr’s net worth dropped constantly, the management blamed it on the increasing number of adult content. In February 2018, they introduced a “Safe Mode” that could filter potential NSFW results out of searches. To its large fan base, the corporate greed to garner revenue out of the website is what caused the ban to take place.
The ban will directly affect artists, sex workers, and others who rely on the platform as a welcoming and inclusive space to discuss and depict diverse expressions of sexuality. D’Onofrio recognized the downside, but stood by the decision stating that “There is no shortage of sites on the internet that feature adult content.” He said that Tumblr needs to wipe out porn if it’s going to make any money off what it thinks is actually valuable about the platform.
Tumbler currently has over 10 million daily users, and the company plans on doubling that number in 2019. However, it was the platform for sharing edgy content by artists, most of which will now be classified under “banned”. It’s no wonder, that many have already left the website in search for higher pastures. Tumblr has officially been rebranded by the ban and could join the numerous regulated culture websites on the internet.
Most of the adult content that’s shared on Tumblr was the work of bots, who pushed in their content as a means of distraction. The decision of Tumblr to ban adult content before tackling such bots has been criticized by the user base. Nonetheless, the once open ground for artists has now lost its charm under corporate greed.