via Tumblr

Tumblr’s Controversial Explicit Content Ban

What is the platform without pornography?

By Andie Paredes, Contributor

The social media controversy of the moment is focused on Tumblr. Starting Dec. 17, 2018, Tumblr will no longer allow any forms of nudity or adult content on its platform.

Because it’s one of the only remaining social media platforms that allows explicit content, this decision is stirring up Tumblr culture. Some users are happy about the new changes and some feel like this change discriminates against a specific audience.

Explicit content will not be allowed in any form including photos, GIFs and videos. However, they did make an exception for female nipples in appropriate settings, such as giving birth or breastfeeding. They are also allowing art with nudity as long as there are no sexual acts being depicted in it and written erotic content will still be permitted.

"We have the opportunity to create a place where more people feel comfortable expressing themselves."

Tumblr plans to enact their new rules through algorithms that automatically detect when a post is flagged for explicit content and flags it for deletion. Tumblr will then email the user to let them know their posts will be hidden and set to private. CEO Jeff D’Onofrio said that this will create a safer space for all bloggers on Tumblr.

“We spent a considerable time weighing the pros and cons of expression in the community that includes adult content,” D’Onofrio stated in the announcement. “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.”

Although this decision was made to ensure safety online, matching similar anti-pornography policies on most major social media platforms, there are many Tumblr users who are not happy about this decision. Some of those voices include women and LGBTQ people, many of whom felt this platform was one of the only places they felt safe expressing their sexuality.

"I feel like feminist-leaning porn is hard to come by"

“As a woman, I feel like feminist-leaning porn is hard to come by, especially affordable or free porn, so Tumblr was an outlet where that sort of representation was more frequent,” said fourth-year LBSU student Vanessa Gonzalez. “That taken away only leaves sites like Pornhub, which can show a lot of cheap porn that caters to the male gaze; not a lot of stuff that’s female-focused or driven.”

The decision to ban explicit content from Tumblr was intended to ensure that there is no child pornography. Child pornography was discovered on Tumblr in November 2018, resulting in the app being removed from the Apple Store.

But this major decision may have affected a smaller community who see sexuality between consenting adults as something to celebrate. For some, this content affirmed their feelings and allowed them to embrace their sexuality.

In situations like these, it is impossible to make every person happy. Down the road, Tumblr may have to revisit their policies in order to accurately represent their communities while also maintaining a safe space. The controversy highlights the importance of keeping everyone and every culture in mind when addressing policy changes.