Tumblr is banning pornography.
The social networking platform announced Monday that as of December 17 it would no longer allow adult content, regardless of the age of the viewer. Moreover, it is encouraging users to report any adult content that they come across.
Content that is flagged will revert to a private status that can only be viewed by the user who posted it. Users can appeal this designation by clicking on a button on the post.
What is "adult content"? "Adult content primarily includes photos, videos, or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples, and any content — including photos, videos, GIFs and illustrations — that depicts sex acts," Tumblr explained in its revised community guidelines.
The post announced that there would be "exceptions" to the new restrictions. These include "exposed female-presenting nipples in connection with breastfeeding, birth or after-birth moments, and health-related situations, such as post-mastectomy or gender confirmation surgery. Written content such as erotica, nudity related to political or newsworthy speech, and nudity found in art, such as sculptures and illustrations, are also stuff that can be freely posted on Tumblr," according to the update.
Tumblr, which allows users to post multimedia content to its blogs, has been an online resource for many in the porn, LGBTQ, kink, and queer artist communities since its founding in 2007. Historically, porn was permitted but censored with filters like its safe mode. However, the 2017 acquisition of Tumblr by Oath Inc., a Verizon subsidiary, led the platform to amp up its censorship and left the future of adult content in question.
Many worried on Twitter that the new guidelines would lead to a targeted erasure of LGBTQ content.
"They are trying to disappear us," said writer and LGBTQ activist Anthony Oliveira, who alluded to the larger trend of queer erasure happening at the behest of the Trump administration.
Tumblr was one of the few vectors for grassroots queer art and banning “adult content” will disproportionally stunt and hamstring those artists, so of course that is happening in 2018
they are trying to disappear us; live in defiance.
— Anthony Oliveira (@meakoopa) December 3, 2018
Others also feared that the change in policy was a coded move to ban queer media or even access to sex education.
— Kharlo (@KharloKong) December 3, 2018
Porn is not sex education. But TOS that remove porn also remove access to sex education. Making sites "family friendly" actually makes them hostile to kids looking for real information and educators like myself desperate to reach them. #tumblr
— Allison Moon (@HeyAllieMoon) December 3, 2018
The looming question I have in light of Tumblr's new ban on adult content is how long until they declare anything queer to be "adult content" by default?https://t.co/eKIdo51JyW"
— Crystal Frasier (@AmazonChique) December 3, 2018
So @tumblr is deciding to ban "adult content" (which will harm NSFW artists and sex workers) on their website starting on International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Cool. pic.twitter.com/jdSRkLfjFI
— Eliel Cruz (@elielcruz) December 3, 2018
Craigslist shut down its personals section in March, with many likewise seeing the move as disproportionately hurting sex workers and LGBTQ people seeking community.