Tumblr is always dying

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The mainstream narrative has declared Tumblr dead for years. Last week, a leaked memo finally revealed the site’s plans to scale down its operations—but its art, fandoms, and inside jokes rage on.

There’s an image that’s repeatedly appeared on my Tumblr dash in the past few days: a screengrab from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia originally captioned, “Everybody’s dying, bitch. Let’s get you some fruit,” in which a Tumblr user with the handle “toxiczombie” has replaced “everybody’s” with the words “Tumblr’s always.” As of this writing, it has a quarter-million likes and reblogs. The posting date: November 18, 2018.

Off the top of my head, I couldn’t remember exactly why my fellow Tumblr users were predicting the platform’s death in November 2018. The adult-content ban, a monumental event in the site’s history that undeniably altered its trajectory, wouldn’t be announced until a few weeks later and implemented a few weeks after that.

A bit of digging revealed the post was likely related to the ban’s precursors: when the Tumblr iOS app suddenly vanished from the App Store with suggestions it was related to “child pornography issues” and when a rash of blogs, many of them explicitly NSFW, were deleted without warning overnight.

Read on…

Nudity is back on Tumblr. Kinda.

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After Yahoo, who bought Tumblr for over a billion dollars, banned all nudity on the platform that was famous for being the best place for porn, the site died a fast and painful death and was eventually sold for a whopping $3 million to Automattic. But any hopes of porn coming back to the social network were squashed right out of the gate.

Original photo by Helix Studios

Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg explained recently that he personally is in favour of a “go nuts, show nuts” policy on sexual content on Tumblr. But despite his personal views Tumblr will probably never go back to allowing porn on their platform because, according to him, it’s impossible to run a profitable social network that allows porn in this day and age for reasons he laid out in this post.

The tl;dr is: Credit card companies hate porn (mostly due to lobbying from religious anti-porn groups), Google and Apple hate porn (and tumblr is heavily reliant on traffic from their app stores), recent US laws that were supposed to protect sex workers from being trafficked are instead used to crack down on online porn by Conservatives and last but not least it’s a lot harder to secure funding when you run a site in the “adult entertainment” segment because no one wants to invest in a “dirty” business.

So, what’s new then?

In a company announcement on Tuesday, Tumblr staff wrote: “We now welcome a broader range of expression, creativity, and art on Tumblr, including content depicting the human form (yes, that includes the naked human form).”

So, some nudity is allowed now. Just not the sexy kind. And it has to be tagged as such and will be hidden from everyone by default (check your settings on Tumblr to opt into seeing NSFW posts!). That being said, “artistic nudity” was actually always allowed but since the porn ban was enforced by an (incredibly shitty) AI, even hundreds of years old paintings were tagged as porn and hidden. It remains to be seen if this will change now.

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Tumblr was sold, porn ban stays

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Rumours about Tumblr being sold were making the rounds for a few months now and many people hoped that a new owner might get rid of the site’s dumb porn ban that effectively killed the platform.

Alas it wasn’t supposed to be. PornHub, who promised to undo the porn ban if they manage to buy tumblr, let us down. After driving Tumblr into the ground, Verizon just sold the site for peanuts to Automattic, the parent company of WordPress. And they’re keeping the porn ban in place so Tumblr’s days of being a haven for the queer community, nsfw content creators and fandoms are definitely over.

Mr. Mullenweg said his company intends to maintain the existing policy that bans adult content. He said he has long been a Tumblr user and sees the site as complementary to WordPress.com. “It’s just fun,” he said of Tumblr. “We’re not going to change any of that.” — Wall Street Journal

In a statement made up of words that definitely mean something, Verizon characterised its sale of Tumblr as “the culmination of a thoughtful, thorough and strategic process” and called Automattic “the perfect partner” which “will unlock new and exciting possibilities for Tumblr and its users.”


Update: Reportedly Verizon/Yahoo sold Tumblr for less than $3 million. We could have bought it with a GoFundMe. For comparison, Yahoo acquired Tumblr for $1.1 billion. Amazing how easy it is to burn a slick billion and destroy one of the biggest websites in the world just by banning porn.

The queer communities harmed by Tumblr’s NSFW content ban

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On Monday, Tumblr announced that it will ban “adult content” from its social network starting December 17. But the ban will penalise the site’s thousands of LGBTQ artists, educators, sex workers and others fans as well.

Tumblr’s move was foreseeable: Last November, Apple briefly removed Tumblr from its App Store. This January, the US congressional Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) will hold websites liable for when users post any content seen as promoting sex work. Eager to avoid prosecution, Tumblr and other sites are purging all sexual content.

An estimated 20% of Tumblr’s current traffic comes from people seeking adult content. So Tumblr’s decision will make the site more advertiser friendly while effectively killing off one-fifth of its user base. Its automated system for detecting adult content is currently flagging pictures of sand dunes, women sitting on desks, wrestlers and other non-explicit content. Thus, it’s hassling far more than just posters of adult content.

While Tumblr may retain its large fandom and social justice communities who use it to connect and share artwork, the ban will harm user who’ve amassed hundreds of thousands of followers through a shared love of erotic art & images celebrating sexuality. Meanwhile the site will still allow posts glorifyig white supremacy. Here are five communities that’ll be most harmed by Tumblr’s adult content ban.

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Tumblr, that site no one’s using for anything but porn, banned all porn

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Imagine living in a world where kids grow up not being taught that their bodies are something to be ashamed of or that sex is something nasty that will taint you as a person. Or actually being taught how to have sex safely to not get pregnant or STDs or how consent works.

You’ll need quite some imagination for this seeing how the West seems to slide back into the moral mindset of the 19th century lately. Led by American companies who have no problem whatsoever with violence or nazi propaganda on their sites, this new Puritan movement just culminated in one of the biggest social networks banning all NSFW content.

Tumblr, the site that has become a hub for so many communities and artists with adult themes, the site that is used to view porn by a majority of its users, wants to become a “better and more positive” place. Apparently that doesn’t include body or sex positivity. Tumblr did say that they won’t remove artistic nudity in art, paintings and sculptures for example but turns out that statement was not quite true as you can see below:

Two weeks from now, all NSFW content will be removed from Tumblr. The decision comes just weeks after the Tumblr app was removed from Apple’s iTunes store because of problems with Tumblr’s content filter. Apparently Tumblr came to the conclusion that just removing all porn would be easier than fixing their software.

The NSFW bloggers are easily Tumblr’s largest community so this move will be a huge blow to the site. The stock price of Tumblr’s parent company Verizon is in free fall and many users started fleeing the site, migrating to Twitter and other networks just hours after the decision was announced.