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People Are Not Happy About Tumblr’s Plan To Ban Adult Content


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For ages, when it came to “adult content,” Twitter has been the puritanical one. If you wanted to let your freak flag fly — which is to say, engage in completely normal, mature, and safe online sexual behavior that ought not to be shamed or outlawed — then Tumblr was your social media joint. But that era is about to end: On December 17, as per The Verge, the platform will begin eradicating any porn-related pages or communities, and it will flag any content that, with exceptions, features nudity or sexual conduct.

What are those exceptions, you may ask? According to the newly amended Tumblr guidelines, those include “exposed female-presenting nipples in connection with breastfeeding, birth or after-birth moments, and health-related situations, such as post-mastectomy or gender confirmation surgery.” Written erotica, nudity found in art, and “nudity related to political or newsworthy speech” (which seems specific and rare) can be posted freely, without need to warn admin or appeal.

Everything else? No longer welcome. That means no genitalia, no “female-presenting” nipples, and no sex acts. Those that are already live will, after December 17, be flagged or deleted by algorithms. Tumblr has vowed to contact any users who have posted sexual content over the years, to warn them of the new rules. Those with porn-related Tumblr pages can also export their pages before the purging. Appeals will be allowed by those arguing they aren’t violating the new rules.


Since launching in 2007, about six months after Twitter, Tumblr has distinguished itself with its sex positive practices. The big shift appears to have arrived last year, when Tumblr was bought by Verizon Oath. Since then it has sought to more aggressively police content. Indeed, this move comes days after an incident involving child pornography got them banned from Apple’s iOS App Store, which may have scared them into lumping all sexual content in together, no matter how insulting that is to a passioante portion of their users.

In a blog post, Tumblr CEO Jeff D’Onofrio addressed the move, claiming they’re simply responding to changing times:

Over the past several months, and inspired by our storied past, we’ve given serious thought to who we want to be to our community moving forward and have been hard at work laying the foundation for a better Tumblr. We’ve realized that in order to continue to fulfill our promise and place in culture, especially as it evolves, we must change.

Of course, that move is away from the sex positivism that has partially made their name. The decision has enraged many, or at least made people question the service’s basic raison d’etre if it’s sex-free. Others, like Chance the Rapper, have pointed out Tumblr is succumbing to the age-old problem, which has long also plagued the movie censorshop board that is the MPAA, of singling out sex but not violence:

Others pointed out they’re singling out sex and not white supremacists:


Others pined for the good ol’ days:

Others pointed out that this makes the lives of sex workers even harder:

Billy Eichner was simply succinct:

(Via The Verge)

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