Tumblr to instigate porn ban

Posted: December 14, 2018

On Monday 17th December, Tumblr is set to initiate the porn ban that has set the internet aflame since it was announced at the beginning of the month. Tumblr CEO Jeff D’Onofrio posted on the site’s staff blog on 3rd December, declaring the imminent ban of explicit visual content and nudity in order to make the site a safe space for all “age groups, demographics, cultures and mindsets”.

However, online theories have abounded and while some have speculated that the anti-trafficking FOSTA act was the real culprit behind the decision, others posited that the removal of the Tumblr app from the Apple Store in November. Indeed, the reinclusion of the Tumblr app to the App Store on 13th December (just 10 days after the announcement of the ban) suggests that the latter theory carries more weight.

It’s true that this has definitely pulled the rug out from under the community’s feet. Previously Tumblr has always been remarkably welcoming to adult content, and even previously endorsed it with a Tumblr authorised directory of erotic accounts listed together with other, more mainstream, categories. There’s definitely an argument to be made that the growth of the community can be ascribed to its inclusion of adult content, a study undertaken by web traffic analysts SimilarWeb in 2013 showed that of the top 200,000 Tumblr domains, over 11% were adult-focused, and over 16% of Tumblr’s overall traffic was to its adult blogs.

Despite assurances thatTumblr is also a place to speak freely about topics like art, sex positivity, your relationships, your sexuality, and your personal journey”, the decision has angered huge swathes of the community’s population, in particular sex workers, producers of erotic or nude art, porn consumers, sex bloggers, and users who identify as sex positive. The phrasing of parts of the updated community guidelines prohibiting “female-presenting nipples” has also been lambasted for its rather unenlightened and unfeminist connotations.

A number of platforms, such as Sharesome and Fancentro, have already declared their intent to be a welcoming home for users who find themselves displaced by the new Tumblr rules, but in reality there isn’t currently anywhere quite like Tumblr; nowhere has the audience or the functionality and it remains to be seen whether the community will ever manage to regroup in quite the same way ever again – and also whether Tumblr will continue to flourish, or ultimately regret its decision in the months to come.