Tumblr to Ban All Porn from December 17th

In a fundamental shift in policy, micro-blogging site Tumblr is set to ban all adult content from its platform from the 17th of December onward.

After being removed from Apple’s app store last month for failing to take down child pornography fast enough, Tumblr executives announced that all “adult content” will not be allowed on its site. Adult content is defined as primarily including “photos, videos, or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples, and any content—including photos, videos, GIFs and illustrations—that depicts sex acts”. Exceptions to the rule include nude classical statues and protest photos that feature nudity.

From the 17th of December, all new posts that contain adult content will be flagged by an automatic system and removed. Any posts that currently feature adult content will be set to private, so the only the original poster will be able to see them.

This is a dramatic change in direction for the site; around 50% of users reported seeing pornography on their dashboards when browsing. Previous site policy only required users to mark any posts with adult content in as NSFW (Not Safe For Work), arguing that the site is “home to millions of readers and creators from a variety of locations, cultures, and backgrounds who hold different points of view concerning adult-oriented content”.

In a blog post, Tumblr CEO Jeff D’Onofrio, said that Tumblr “must change” in order to fulfil “its place in culture”:

It is our continued, humble aspiration that Tumblr be a safe place for creative expression, self-discovery, and a deep sense of community. As Tumblr continues to grow and evolve, and our understanding of our impact on our world becomes clearer, we have a responsibility to consider that impact across different age groups, demographics, cultures, and mindsets. We spent considerable time weighing the pros and cons of expression in the community that includes adult content. In doing so, it became clear that without this content we have the opportunity to create a place where more people feel comfortable expressing themselves.

D’Onofrio also highlighted that “there are no shortage of sites on the internet that feature adult content”, and that they would “leave it to them… [focusing] our efforts on creating the most welcoming environment possible for our community”.

Many Tumblr users believe that the implementation of the ban will be completely unsuccessful, with concerns of the accuracy of the bot system used to detect adult content. Some users have posted examples of clearly SFW images being incorrectly flagged, such as a collection of dinosaur illustrations for a children’s book. Others have jumped onto the phrase “female-presenting nipples”, jokingly arguing that users should be able to define their own nipple gender, or instead suggesting photoshopping male nipples onto NSFW photos:

Male nipple Tumblr
A meme currently circulating on Tumblr mocking the new policy

Tumblr has also been mocked by other sites looking to capitalise on their predicament:

A change.org petition asking to reverse the decision has over 29,000 signatures at the time of writing.

Jack Hadfield

About Jack Hadfield

Jack Hadfield is the Editor in Chief of Sabre’s Edge Media. You can like his page on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @JackHadders, and follow him on Gab @JH.

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