Tumblr is banning all NSFW content – and people are worryin…


tumblr feed nsfwTumblr/Paige Leskin
  • Tumblr announced Monday that the website will soon ban the posting of any “adult content,” which is defined as media that depicts “real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples.”
  • In a blog post, Tumblr defended the decision as a “responsibility to consider (our) impact across different age groups, demographics, cultures, and mindsets.”
  • When Verizon bought Yahoo in 2017, it also took ownership of Tumblr.
  • People across social media platforms decried Tumblr for taking away a platform where users could view NSFW content. and explore their identity in a safe space.

Tumblr will soon ban its millions of users from posting NSFW content featuring nudity and porn, the blogging platform announced Monday. Tumblr is a part of Oath, the Verizon digital media subsidiary formed by pieces of the telecom giant’s AOL and Yahoo acquisitions. 

Under the new policy, anything considered “adult content” is banned, which Tumblr defines as images, videos, and GIFs of “real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples.” The policy change and the new set of community guidelines will go into effect on December 17, Tumblr said. 

In 2013, Yahoo bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion as a part of then-CEO Marissa Mayer’s big bet on modernizing the company – though Yahoo would end up writing down the lion’s share of the acquisition. A few months after Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo closed, Tumblr founder David Karp left, replaced in January by Jeff D’Onofrio, formerly the COO of the company. 

We’ve realized that in order to continue to fulfill our promise and place in culture, especially as it evolves, we must change, Tumblr CEO Jeff D’Onofrio said in a post. “As Tumblr continues to grow and evolve … we have a responsibility to consider that impact across different age groups, demographics, cultures, and mindsets.”

Existing posts that Tumblr deems as adult content will be flagged, but won’t immediately be deleted from the platform. Posts will instead be made private until December 17, so users have a short window to preserve their content before it’s deleted from the platform.

Tumblr has already started to mark posts that its filters have deemed NSFW. Users have already reported that posts including Pokémon, dinosaur art, and TV show screengrabs have been flagged under the new policy.

“There are no shortage of sites on the internet that feature adult content,” Tumblr said. “We will leave it to them and focus our efforts on creating the most welcoming environment possible for our community.”

According to Tumblr, “adult content” includes:

  • Content (photos, videos, or GIFs) that show “real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples.”
  • Content and illustrations that depict sex acts.
  • From the new Community Guidelines: “this includes content that is so photorealistic that it could be mistaken for featuring real-life humans (nice try, though).”

Posts that are still allowed:

  • 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 content such as erotica, nudity related to political or newsworthy speech, and nudity found in art, such as sculptures and illustrations, are also stuff that can be freely posted on Tumblr.
  • From the new Community Guidelines: “Certain types of artistic, educational, newsworthy, or political content featuring nudity.”

The change in policy was met with much backlash from Tumblr users and observers alike. Some criticized Tumblr’s definition of “adult content,” while others warned that Tumblr would lose a significant chunk of its users because of the change. In general, the move seems to have shaken user confidence in Verizon’s stewardship of Tumblr, saying that this could be the beginning of the end for the 11-year-old site. 

This ban on nudity comes weeks after the Tumblr app was removed from the iPhone and iPad App Store after it was discovered that child pornography could be found on the platform. 

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