Tumblr Bans ‘Adult Content’ And Users Leave

Man hand using Tumblr on a tablet
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In a move that some call the death of Tumblr, the microblogging website and social media network now owned by Verizon’s Oath Inc. announced its plans to ban “adult content.”

According to a report from the Verge, on December 17, after 11 years, Tumblr will no longer allow adult content, and the ban is supposedly permanent. Any existing posts that feature pornography will be set to private forever. All explicit sexual content and nudity are no longer welcome on the platform. The announcement may stem from the Apple iOS App Store recently removing the Tumblr app due to a child pornography incident.

On Monday, Tumblr’s CEO Jeff D’Onofrio announced on the site Tumblr will be “a better, more positive” space. The update said, “Posts that contain adult content will no longer be allowed on Tumblr.” It went on to acknowledge how the site has a reputation for “a place to speak freely about topics like art, sex positivity, your relationships, your sexuality, and your personal journey.” However, in the end, they plan to leave adult content to other sites and create a welcoming environment for the platform.

The ban includes GIFs, videos, and photos of human genitalia, female-presenting nipples, along with any other media involving sex acts, including drawings. However, written erotica is still allowed along with nude protests and nude classical statues. Plus, pictures of breastfeeding and after birth photos will also remain.

The site plans to give users with flagged content until December 17 to export content before the website sets it to private. Several users believe that this change in policy may mean the end of Tumblr altogether.

A Daily Beast report points out that sex workers who built a following on the platform fear that the ban will end with them out of work. Traditionally, Tumblr’s policies about nudity have been far looser than those of Facebook and Instagram, which made it an excellent platform for porn stars and cam girls among other types of sex workers.

Interestingly, the date that the ban entirely takes effect is also International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Laura Dilley, executive director of the sex-worker advocacy group PACE Society, said sites continue to push sex workers into the margins of or even off the internet.

“Sex workers share important info on Tumblr like providing folks with education, and resources, and really just much-needed community, which is hard to find when you’re in a stigmatized profession like sex work,” Dilley said.

Now people who formed followings and fans struggle to find an alternative online while Tumblr struggles to find a new identity and place to survive after more than a decade of success in allowing a wider variety of adult content than other social media networks. While many predicted the death of the microblogging platform in the past, this indeed may be the end.