Tumblr announces adult content ban

Shortly after the Tumblr app was removed from Apple’s App Store due to images of child sexual abuse getting past the site’s content filters, the company behind the popular blogging platform has decided to remove all adult content on the service.

A blog post from the site’s staff on Monday, December 3, called for “a better, more positive Tumblr” and stated that the site would “no longer be allowing adult content, including explicitly sexual content and nudity (with some exceptions)”.

The ban will be put in place on December 17 and will, according to these guidelines, remove “photos, videos, or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples, and any content […] that depicts sex acts”.

However, Tumblr recognizes that it is a “place to speak freely about topics like art, sex positivity, your relationships, your sexuality, and your personal journey”, so it will be permitting otherwise-adult imagery in a few specific contexts, such as written erotica, breastfeeding images, nudity in art, gender confirmation surgery and more.

But where do all the adults go?

Since its launch in 2007, Tumblr has been somewhat of a haven for adult content due to its relatively relaxed rules surrounding explicit material. As such, the community that uses the service has become extensive, with many using it as both a source of pornography and the means in which to discuss it.

The decision to ban adult content is already facing a large amount of public outcry. Many users have suggested that the service will essentially become barren without its adult content and others see it as a lazy response to the platform’s inability to moderate its site for highly illegal content like child pornography.

Some users are already reporting that their innocent content is being incorrectly flagged by Tumblr's algorithm – no doubt a side-effect of having to moderate such an extensive repository of media.

But as Tumblr itself is suggesting, “There are 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.”

Users whose content is flagged by Tumblr as adult will be receiving an email notice and the post with the content in question will be reverted to private, viewable only to the user. Affected users, however, will be able to appeal this decision.

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