Student’s Guide to Tumblr’s Adult Content Ban

Audrey St. Clair 
Contributing Writer

The popular social media platform Tumblr issued a ban in December prohibiting users from posting what the company defines as “adult content.”

Tumblr CEO, Jeff D’Onofrio, said in early December the website would begin taking down any posts they deem inappropriate in order to create a “better, more positive Tumblr.”

Tumblr is a website and app that operates as an outlet for users to post or “repost” pictures, videos, audio, text and GIFs. The website was known for its leniency in regards to content, as many of the posts on the website can include graphic content, such as nudity.

Anyone can access Tumblr from the age of 13, which exposes some users to mature content at a young age. However, the new ban restricts all users, regardless of age, from posting or viewing adult content.

The ban came as a result of Apple’s decision to remove the Tumblr app from the App Store due to child pornography. Tumblr has a filter system where all uploaded content is reviewed before it is posted, but child pornography slipped through the filters. Tumblr responded just days after the app removal by banning all adult content.

Seen as a welcoming community, Tumblr has been an outlet to trauma survivors, the LGBTQ+ community and young artists. Members of these communities voiced their disappointment in Tumblr’s ban.

Twitter user @EMGoisia tweeted, “It really bums be out that the NSFW ban was instituted on Tumblr” because she believes it’s a good place “for folks to realize they weren’t alone in their thoughts and desires.”

Posts with adult content will not be deleted, per say, but they will be hidden from public view. This means the only person who can see the post is who originally posted it. Tumblr has offered an appeals process for users who claim their post does not violate the new guidelines.

In the past, Tumblr has taken similar steps toward banning specific content. When users searched trigger words such as “sad” or “depression” into the search engine, the user would see a message encouraging them to seek help. This was seen as a thoughtful move by the company; however, the recent ban is being viewed by many as an infringement on users’ creativity and self-expression.

While Tumblr used to be an outlet for individuals to come together and bond over similar interests, the company is striving to make the site less graphic. The ban on adult content was a step the company saw as necessary to maintain a family-friendly online community.

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