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No, Tumblr is not bringing back porn • TechCrunch

Tumblr announced a “community labels” feature this week that will make it easier for bloggers to filter out sensitive content that they may not want to see. Now, users can tag posts with labels pertaining to drug and alcohol addiction, violence and sexual content.

Tumblr stopped allowing pornography in 2018 after the Tumblr app was temporarily removed from the iOS App Store because child pornography passed through the app’s filtering technology. Since then, its web traffic has dropped by around 30% and has largely stagnated. Still, like many web services, certain kinds of sexual content are allowed on Tumblr, even after the platform’s fateful porn ban — this includes content with nudity that serves an “artistic, educational, newsworthy or political” purpose (yes, those guidelines are intentionally vague). As many users have joked about, Tumblr does not allow images, videos or GIFs of genitals, or… “female-presenting nipples.”

In short, nothing about Tumblr’s content guidelines fundamentally changed with the addition of community labels, at least for now. This feature just gives users more control about what they see on their dashboards.

In Tumblr’s “content you see” section of settings, you can toggle whether you want to allow all community-labeled content, see posts obscured with a “click to view” button, or block such content altogether. Most importantly, users under the age of 18 will be automatically barred from seeing any content with community labels, perhaps in anticipation of changing regulations due to a children’s online privacy law that passed in California. Also, no posts with community labels can be monetized through Post+ or Blaze.

So, why did Tumblr users think that this meant it was time for the, er, “return of the tits“?

When Tumblr’s staff blog posted about the community labels update, one overzealous team member, who did not work on the feature, reblogged the announcement.

“Ok, didn’t everyone want ‘females presenting nipples’ back on Tumblr? Here you are. This is it,” the employee wrote in a now-deleted reblog. But, because of the way that Tumblr reblogs work, once a post is out on the dashboard, it can never be fully erased if it gets further reblogged. So, even if the Tumblr staff member quickly rectified their mistake, the misinformation still will continue to circulate. 

“So to be clear, is erotic fanart now allowed back on Tumblr so long as you classify the post appropriately?” another user asked. The Tumblr staff member replied, “Yes.” But, as it turns out, the employee was mistaken.

So, basically, one person at Tumblr said “female presenting nipples” and the rest of the site erupted into a fit of horny triumph. In actuality, the community guidelines did not change at all.

“I probably should have shut up yesterday because people saw someone from Staff saying ‘tits’ and started to take it as a confirmation of all kinds of things, but I literally wasn’t in any position to confirm or deny anything,” the staff member later wrote on their blog.

It’s still up in the air whether or not these community labels may eventually allow users to post a wider range of content. In the announcement itself, Tumblr said that content like “fanart of your favorite ship engaging with each other in…a very private moment” would be assigned a community label. Naturally, this confused some users who had not been allowed to post such content. Then again, this isn’t all too different from the time when Tumblr announced its Post+ subscription feature by saying that it could be used to help fan writers monetize their fanfic. But any fan creator knows that monetized fan works have been subject to intense legal scrutiny since the advent of internet fandom, so Tumblr essentially put its foot in its mouth.

Community labels are our first step toward making sure that everything is appropriately tagged on Tumblr so that people aren’t exposed to content they don’t want to see or aren’t legally allowed to see,” Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Tumblr’s parent company Automattic, wrote on his Tumblr. “The response has been great so far, and I’m very excited that a fuller range of artists will be able to appropriately tag and protect their art and work.” That line, which he posted in bold text, seems to indicate that Tumblr might get a bit more lenient in time.

Mullenweg emphasized that Tumblr still needs to abide by Apple’s App Store guidelines, which have historically posed ample trouble for the platform. No apps with pornographic content are allowed in the App Store (though larger platforms like Reddit and Twitter seem to get away with it). He also pointed out that Tumblr has recently started collecting birthdays from its users to make sure that minors don’t see inappropriate content.

“We need to take extra steps to make sure that anything tagged isn’t available to younger users and you need to explicitly opt-in to make sure it shows up,” he wrote. He plans to bring Tumblr’s content guidelines closer to that of WordPress.com, another company owned by Automattic.

In case you were wondering, WordPress.com doesn’t allow pornography either, though it concedes that nudity is generally fine. So, maybe, just maybe, the “female-presenting nipple” could one day see justice on Tumblr after all.

KSR

Hi there! I am the Founder of Cyber World Technologies. My skills include Android, Firebase, Python, PHP, and a lot more. If you have a project that you'd like me to work on, please let me know: contact@cyberworldtechnologies.co.in

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