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And That's Terrible

Tumblr Cracks Down On Adult Content, Suffers An Unrelated Security Breach. Karma?


It’s not been a great day for Tumblr. First there’s a “security vulnerability” in their iOS apps that put their users’ passwords at risk. Second, they’re facing backlash over a new policy toward adult content.

Yahoo, is this your doing?

First, the porn, because priorities for Chrissakes. The Daily Dot reports that Tumblr has made it so “adult blogs” are no longer searchable, meaning none of their posts will show up on a public tag search. And there’s more: Tumblr users have always been able to label their own blogs as “adult,” but apparently now Tumblr can flag your blog as adult for you.

What does this mean? Basically, if your blog is “adult,” or if Tumblr has labelled it as such (people who think they’ve been flagged falsely can appeal to the “Trust & Safety Team”), nothing you post—porn, NSFW content related to sex education, G-rated fanart, X-rated fanart, meta, chocolate chip cookie recipes, fully-dressed fictional characters wearing flower crowns—will appear on tag searches unless the person doing the searching already follows you. Posts by Tumblr user RandomAdultBlog will only be seen by their followers, the followers of people who reblog them, and anyone who gets to the blog via an outside link.

Tumblr does make a distinction between “adult” and “NSFW blogs”—the former has “substantial nudity or mature/adult-oriented content” an the latter has “occasional nudity or mature/adult-oriented content.” Writes The Daily Dot:

According to Tumblr’s explanation of the new restrictions, NSFW blogs should still show up on public tags, as long as users are not browsing in Safe Mode. However, realistically speaking, a huge number of Tumblr accounts are likely to fall into the category of Adult, and will become unsearchable.

That’s pretty awful, not just for people who post porn gifs/NSFW fanart/sex ed information/etc., but also for those who might like to see those posts or other, safe-for-work content posted by flagged blogs. There are ways to block porn on Tumblr if you don’t want to see it (Safe Search and Tumblr Savior); removing every single thing an “adult” blog posts from the tags is way past excessive.

That said, let’s not get all chicken little up in here. For the sake of research (I swear) I did a tag search for “porn,” and, well… there was plenty of stuff there. And I don’t follow porn blogs. (You’ll have to take my word for that.) Granted, I have no idea whether it’s the same amount of porn that’s usually in the porn tag, or whether it’s the same degree of porn, or… look, I’m going to put an end to this anecdote now.

And we have no idea how liberal Tumblr’s going to be with flagging blogs as adult. Under this new policy it’s possible that reblogging the occasional NSFW fanart might get you removed from the tags, but I can’t imagine it’s likely.

They way Tumblr chooses to enforce its policy might not be as bad as it looks (which is pretty bad); they’re notoriously bad at actually communicating with their user base, after all. That lack of transparency is part of the problem. If they’re going to remove certain things/users who fit certain requirements from the tags, they should at least tell us what their criteria is and, if they’re being super-generous, give us a way to re-NSFW our tags.

Heck, it’s their site. They can do what they want. But I can’t see how putting up roadblocks to large numbers of users from gaining new followers could possibly help them in the long run.

The Daily Dot also reports that some tags have “disappeared” from the iPhone app, among them “gay,” “lesbian,” and “bisexual” (but not “bi,” “lgbt,” and “queer”). That might just be a technical issue that Tumblr’s aware of and trying to repair, though. (I can dream). The app is notoriously FUBAR, after all.

Which brings me to my second bit o’ Tumblr news. If you use the Tumblr app on iOS, you might want to change your password. Writes Derek Gottfrid on the Tumblr staff’s official blog:

“We have just released a very important security update for our iPhone and iPad apps addressing an issue that allowed passwords to be compromised in certain circumstances… If you’ve been using these apps, you should also update your password on Tumblr and anywhere else you may have been using the same password… Please know that we take your security very seriously and are tremendously sorry for this lapse and inconvenience.”

Quoth CNN, “passwords were ‘sniffed’ or detected while in transit on certain versions of the app.”

Somewhere the Facebook staff is crying tears of joy that another site is royally screwing up for once.

(via: The Huffington Post, CNN, The Daily Dot)

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  • R.O.U.S.

    Let’s all act like we’re surprised. Ready… GO.

  • Anonymous

    It might be more of an advertisers thing than Yahoo itself, although the two are probably related. And let’s not forget that tumblr was never the most user friendly site out there even before the acquisition. There have been times when I felt like tumblr was actively opposing its user base rather than trying to streamline things and make the service more user friendly. Whichever way the finger points I don’t think it’ll go over well with users. I’ve already seen some rage-y posts about it and I know of one person who has already separated out her NSFW stuff to another blog so the rest of her content won’t be blocked.

    I had actually hoped that with Yahoo buying it up tumblr might start making some intelligent choices, but it looks like they’re just getting dumber.

  • Anonymous

    I seem to recall people believing this would be the first thing Yahoo would do once they took over.

    It was the second.

    The paid “Suggested posts” came first.

    Because, as you say, priorities

  • HamsterMasterSamster

    Optional NSFW/adult content filters have been a thing on image-based websites for how long? And somehow tumblr still thought it was smart to enforce a mandatory censorship filter?

    Sigh.

  • Nat

    It makes sense though that Yahoo would want to do this, what with the ‘won’t someone think of the children’. I post any NSFW material under Read Mores unless we’re on my RP blog and it’s 2am and we’re all half asleep and giggling and it’s Sexy Sunday so… I tag my stuff appropriately. It’s not my job, as an adult, to monitor what your minor is looking on the internet at.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll be honest and say in some ways, Tumblr can get kind of out of control with this. I mean you can’t search a tag for any underage or child character without being smacked in the face with really violent gang rape porn or other things that people make no effort to tag as “NSFW” (even though the jags make sure to tag the character name, TV shows, comic title, whatever). So yeah. If I can look at cool art of my favorite characters without seeing someone’s poorly drawn rape porn, I’ll be much happier.

  • Anonymous

    *sighs* yeah, I think Yahoo wants to turn Tumblr into the next ‘hip’ thing for kids. Like a myspace or a facebook. But before it can advertise to kids they have to get rid of all that ‘nasty’ adult stuff. Now they are just ostracizing a good portion of their user base. Tumblr can be a good medium for everyone, it can be another version of reddit for those afraid of reddit.

    But instead they want to make money on kids, again. Who wants to bet they will have ‘games’ that you can buy credits for soon?

  • Laura Truxillo

    Y’know, I’ve seen people asking Tumblr to make comment-friendlier, to let people view notes in their inbox after responding to them, or to let us do crazy things like SEARCH TWO TAGS AT ONCE. Things like that.

    I missed the bit where people where begging the Tumblr Powers That Be to protect us from the nasty sexbits, since were are unable to do it ourselves.

  • Laura Truxillo

    But it seems like the answer would be to block individual posts, not an entire blog.

    Plus I’m not sure how much I trust Tumblr to decide whether an artist draws nudes or porn.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Yeah, heaven forbid we get a chat feature or, IDK, things we actually want.

  • Anonymous

    tumblr’s policy seems to be “If they ask for it, don’t give it to them. Instead force them to accept changes we think are good.” Where “good” in this case means “terrible.”

  • Omegasama

    This annoys me so baaad. Why would they want to alienate most of the usebase that made tumblr what it is? Most of the fan community are posters of nsfw art/stories and most of the community on tumblr are fangirls/boys and adult oriented people so what the hell?

  • Lapin

    This is so stupid. I follow some technically NSFW blogs that only post the occasional NSFW art among tons of amazing SFW art. And I would never have found those artists under this new system.

    If they start trying to market tumblr to kids by removing all content deemed ‘pornographic’ (how will they decide what to classify as porn anyways?) I can see a sizable portion of users leaving the site altogether.

    What they need to do is enforce the rule that all NSFW posts be tagged as such, because if they’re being tagged, you can easily block them. Effectively running any blog with any sort of NSFW content into the ground is not the answer. It shows that the new management has no clue about the tumblr community.

  • Alice Ayres

    I feel like a better solution would be to make a NSFW filter for individual posts, like most websites have. Give uploaders the option of marking their posts as NSFW and have a built-in system so that NSFW posts are automatically hidden if the user so chooses (and have an age filter when people make accounts). Then they could also have a moderating system to find unlabelled NSFW posts and have them flagged appropriately. Make it part of the policy and let users report unmarked posts. Don’t remove the posts from the damn tags, just have some kind of “safe dash”-type of overlay on NSFW posts.

    Blocking entire blogs is the stupidest thing because I never follow Adult blogs since I want the option of viewing my dash in public. I only find porny content through the tags, so how am I supposed to find new porn if the entire blogs are blocked? All this policy is doing is discouraging new adult blogs from generating original content because the whole incentive of the tumblr system is to accumulate followers. It becomes way more difficult to gain new followers if the blog’s contents are completely blocked from the tags.

  • Cy

    My dashboard is full of cars. I found Tumblr is a great place to drool over a custom 32 Ford one minute and a DeLorean the next. You’ll get the occasional pin-up model. If they block an entire blog from searches because of some NSFW images then it’s going to become hard to find good car blogs not made by a company.

  • Anonymous

    Next frontier: ban posting of copyrighted material. Replace any blog that does (or is reported to have done) with a banner that says “fuck yeah DMCA” in 72-point comic sans.

  • Anonymous

    If that’s what’s happening, Yahoo’s logic is so bizarre. “I want a site made by a corporation and specifically marketed to my age group!”—said no teenager ever. By the time they dumb it down, the demographic they’re targeting will have moved on to… GifBlot, a site for handwritten text and gifs. Or whatever the next big thing will be. Which will inevitably be snapped up by google, starting the whole thing over again.

    (I would wonder why they don’t realize that what kids are really looking for is a place unoccupied by adults/the public/major corporations/phonies, but that would require a level of self-awareness that no corporation has ever displayed.)

  • Lapin

    I know. I’m gonna laugh if they try to sell tumblr as ‘the next big thing’, and no kids take the bait, while all of the adults leave, so nobody at all ends up using tumblr.

    I mean, the funny thing is, teenagers already use tumblr. I’m in my upper teenage years, as are some of my friends on the site. It’s just that most of the teenagers who use it are the sort who don’t like Facebook/ what have you, and also don’t particularly mind all the NSFW stuff on the site. Hmm.

    I’m gonna be sad if tumblr goes down, though. I don’t know what I’d move on to yet.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Not only do teens already use Tumblr, they already look at porn, too. Not that I’d expect a giant corporation to have the attitude that “teens look at porn anyway, that’s what they want, so whatever,” but if their aim is to attract a teen userbase to Tumblr, sanitizing it is almost laughably naive.

  • Lapin

    Well said. There are a lot of teenage artists on the site, especially, who post NSFW stuff. I’m an aspiring artist, and I’ve drawn non-sexual stuff with nude people in it- I wonder if that could be interpreted as pornographic? Because if so, MY blog could get a NSFW label.

    Plus, I’d say tumblr is really the best place for teenagers who are curious about porn… At least their porn tends to be more all-inclusive and not as creepy as actual porn sites. So there’s that.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly. And even the teens/young adults who aren’t interested in or actively searching porn are pretty desensitized to it. We’ve grown up on the internet, after all.

  • MeatyStakes

    Well, we had a good run, tumblr.

    Shut it down!

  • Anonymous

    Fix the bug that keeps eating asks. Allow pics to be linked or uploaded every time. Make reblog as text the default. Built-in mute feature. Reblog yourself. Reblog asks. Add tags to asks. Copy over tags. Wrap tags. Allow editing of links when you reblog (handy for sourcing art, among
    other things). And so on and so forth.

    What do we get instead? A kawaii animation when you “like” something, a bunch of useless cosmetic changes, getting snotty about adult content and oh yeah, that ridiculous new “Activity” feature that keeps track of all the people who reblog and like your stuff, just so you can see at a glance how unpopular you are. ;)

  • Anonymous

    Oh the land of the Free.

  • domytoruluq

    мy coυѕιɴ ιѕ мαĸιɴɢ $51/нoυr oɴlιɴe. υɴeмployed ғor α coυple oғ yeαrѕ αɴd prevιoυѕ yeαr ѕнe ɢoт α $1З619cнecĸ wιтн oɴlιɴe joв ғor α coυple oғ dαyѕ. ѕee мore αт…­ ­ViewMore——————————————&#46qr&#46net/kkEj

    Well said. There are a lot of teenage artists on the site,
    especially, who post NSFW stuff. I’m an aspiring artist, and I’ve drawn
    non-sexual stuff with nude people in it- I wonder if that could be
    interpreted as pornographic? Because if so, MY blog could get a NSFW
    label.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nuuni.nuunani Nuuni Nuunani

    I find this so odd considering the number of NSFW things on Yahoo itself like the category for adult groups ^^;

  • http://fandomnista.wordpress.com/ Robin S

    I operate under the assumption that all of Tumblr is NSFW, and therefore, do not look at it at work. Sorted.

  • Nat

    XKit 7 has introduced some of these features (including a chat). I don’t understand why Tumblr can’t just implement these itself.

  • mmei291

    tinyurl.com/l3cselt

  • Siobhan

    I manage the tumblr account for the Glee Kink Meme where we track work-in-progress fic fills from the comm. All of the content on the GKMFills Tumblr is strictly text, contains no NSFW information outside of a cut you have to deliberately click on to open and then it’s just the prompt of the fill, and fully warns anyone about what they’ll get if they click on the link to go to the 18+ LJ comm where the fill is, where you can’t even access it /unless/ you specific that you’re of age. We’ve been marked NSFW despite making extensive efforts to be a SFW as possible given what we’re tracking.

    We’re adults. Parents need to understand that it’s not /our/ job to make sure their minors aren’t getting into smut, it’s theirs. If they want to /neglect/ their job as parents, then that’s on them not us.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, but A) Xkit has developed a severe dislike of Chrome on my computer and refuses to turn off notifications no matter what I do (works fine on Firefox, but that’s a different blog) and B) we shouldn’t NEED outside apps to accomplish some of this stuff. Yet not only is tumblr refusing to give them to us they are actively recoding to kill anything that DOES do these things. Missing E is already dead because of them and I wouldn’t be surprised if they target Xkit next.

  • Anonymous

    I thought the tag searching was poor. I posted something and then logged off and tired to search for it but it did not come up.

  • Anonymous

    You’d think it would be easier to add a “exclude adult/NSFW content” feature to search. That way people who don’t want to see the content don’t have to and the rest of us can do as we always did. tumblr’s high-handed approach seems much more bulky and complicated and far more likely to cause issues with people.

    But then again when has tumblr ever done what’s easy or in the best interest of its users? ;)

  • Nat

    Sorry to hear that :/ I had a weird flub the other day but so far haven’t had any issues with chrome which is also my primary browser. And no, we shouldn’t, but since they haven’t we have to make due. I had more issues with missing e than I have Xkit.

  • Nat

    Exactly. I mean yes, I understand the liability. We should all remember LJ Strikeout of 2007 or whatever it was. Internet liability is still fairly new. A report came out not long ago (and I wish I could remember the organization) that said that most minor victims meet the predator online (I think it was like 48%?).
    Sure the internet is free-for-all but you know what? So are resteraunts and Winking Lizard doesn’t let in under-21s after 8pm. Monitor what your kid is doing. Block sites and make sure your kid can’t access it. But for god’s sake, you chose to have a kid, take responsiblity for them. I’m not your babysitter. I was reading NC17 fan fiction at 13 years old, I’ve found porn blogs, etc, and woop de doo. My brother was 8 when he went online to girls dot com. If someone wants to look at NSFW content, they’re going to find it and I think you’d rather they find it on tumblr than pornhub.
    Uhg this makes me so mad.

  • Alene

    I don’t even post NSFW content and I was flagged as NSFW. I’m a fandom blog, specifically Supernatural. And I’m also a Destiel shipper, which happens to be an m/m pairing. I only post gifsets and photosets from the own show, metas, PG-13 fanart and I reblog social awareness posts, a lot of which is about GSM. It seems everything “gay” is now treated as NSFW by tumblr now.

  • Anonymous

    So… What’s the problem, then? Oh right, tumblr just being a dick to everyone. Again. *sigh*

    I wonder if tumblr will have to do any backtracking on this or if it’ll just be another “suck it up and get used to it” thing. Bah. Not like it has much effect on me. THIS time. If their crackdown on anything impure gets strong enough, though, we’ll probably all fall under the blade eventually.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    Look, I know that Yahoo can do whatever it wants as a company, but where else am I gonna visit for free cosplay porn… :

  • http://jeremylawson.com/ Jeremy Lawson

    Yep, I run one of those blogs that posts everything from a custom 32 Ford to a DeLorean and my blog has been flagged as NSFW – probably because I also post/reblog pin-ups. However, there’s no nudity on my site and what I post isn’t any more risque than what you see in the magazines in the checkout line at the grocery store.

    I knew something was up for a month or two; I track the analytics on my site and the numbers have been way off.