Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Tumblr Bumbler

In a move that played contrary to the purpose of the Internet, Tumblr just recently decided to ban all trace amounts of pornography from its site, since it’s Adult Label warning was proving to be as effective as those R ratings for movies and games.

Banned content includes photos, videos, and GIFs of human genitalia, female-presenting nipples, and any media involving sex acts, including illustrations. The exceptions include nude classical statues and political protests that feature nudity.

The real reason for this unpopular move was to ban child pornography, but this scorched Earth approach affects not only harmless sites, but also has an impact on LGBT users looking for a new home for creative expression, sex workers expressing their kinks, and women who, believe it or not, make up a significant part of the Tumblr audience.  Turns out Porn isn’t just for guys!  Who knew?

The really distressing part that’s been pointed out (and I’ve been rightfully ignorant of) is that while child pornography gets the whack-a-mole treatment, there’s a frightening amount of Nazi propaganda material out there that hasn’t been drastically cut down on.  How difficult can it possibly be to trim out sites devoted to hateful stuff?

So, for the last two weeks, I’ve been anxiously poring through multiple Tumblr sites saving as much material as humanly possible, taking well-needed breaks in between.  The reason for this was because the images that were being flagged included inconspicious pictures such as Unicorns, boot cleaners and raw chicken.
To double the irony, they've also restricted images of any critique on Tumblr's porn restrictions.

One of the longest-running Tumblr sites, EscherGirls, which is FULL of wonky female anatomy (and lessons on how to properly correct and display said anatomy) would be ripe for deletion. Ami Angelwings who’d been running the site for over seven years was horrified at the prospect of losing so much work.  Fortunately, there was the option of converting everything over to Wordpress, and she reserved the domain name of, just in case.  The Tumblr site is still available, but who know how long that’ll last.

I scoured the majority of Archie Out of Context, since there are many many instances of panels that could be potentially considered NSFW.  I also found several notable panels elsewhere not part of their lineup that could easily fit under their list of restrictions.

This social media platform had the benefit of cross-culture contribution - if there was something that was noticed on another normally obscure site, it would be shared, bringing wider recognition to other artists who would’ve been otherwise ignored.

One of the admirable features of Tumblr was that their Archive option, displaying all the frontal images all at once.  The only downside of this was that it only showed the first image, and didn’t note which post had more than one, or the accompanying text that came with them.  Also, depending on the number of updates, the thumbnailed images could overwhelm the site, leading to a slowdown of the site, making it impossible to see everything at once.

I was never part of Tumblr’s platform, but if I was, there was something I intended to contribute, but never did.  While I was doing volunteer work at a library, helping them with their move, weeding books and putting material back on the shelves, I noticed that there were quite a lot of books with naked breasts on them.  For something that put themselves on a pedestal of integrity, books weren’t afraid to pander to the lowest common denominator.  And with Tumblr’s latest restrictions, anything I put there would be immediately flagged.

In order to qualify, there would be several restrictions:

  • No Romance Novels - any bodice rippers would be out.
  • No Pornographic material - these would have to be works that didn’t focus solely on erotic content.
  • Actual nipples - just showing lots of cleavage wouldn’t be enough.
  • Foreign content was allowed - books in other countries were more lenient in unashamedly showing breasts whenever possible.  A French publication actually had a cover taken from a Hentai comic of a woman in bondage to a chair with copious fluids all over her.  (The inside was all text)
  • No cartoon collections - Playboy-like comics would be too easy, and I was looking for lushly or playfully-drawn covers where the insides were just reams of words and no pictures.

However, I could only find a smattering of covers that met my standards, and didn’t know how to accept contributions from other people who could’ve added to my small collection.  I could've made a Facebook page, but it turns out that Facebook is likewise going to go towards a similar restriction of pornography.

My site would’ve been called Literary Boobs.
This is the most SFW cover I can put on my site without alerting any warnings.
The above image is just a collection of shapes that happens to resemble a human form.  However, there's no guarantee it'll pass the smell test since one of the images that triggered Tumblr's safety labels happened to be... Garfield.  Apparently, robots can't tell the difference between the fat cat's round eyes and a pair of breasts.  Must be why the fat cat's been so popular for so long.  (Also applies to the Simpsons)
Just LOOK at that seductive form!  Oh yeah, baby...
Since the announcement was made, there was a protest notice made by multiple outspoken Tumblr users that made its round in its dying days:
In response to the NSFW ban being enacted by Tumblr Staff, on December 17th 2018 I propose that we all log off of our Tumblr accounts for 24 hours. 

The lack of respect and communication between staff and users is stark. Users have been begging staff to delete the porn bot outbreak, which has plagued the website for well over a year. The porn bots oftentimes send people asks and messages, trying to get them to go to a website full of viruses. They also spam advertisements on others posts.  

Users have also begged that Tumblr ban neo-nazis, child porn, and pedophiles, all which run rampant on the site. The site/app got so bad that it was taken off the app store.

However, instead of answering the users, Tumblr has instead taken the liberty to ban all NSFW content, regardless of age. But users have already run into issues of their SFW content being marked as sensitive and being flagged as NSFW, not allowing them to share their work.

Not only does this discriminate again content creators, but it also discriminates against sex workers. Disgustingly, the ban will be enacted on December 17 which is also International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

This ban is disgusting, and while I (and plenty of others) welcome porn bots and child porn being banned, the Tumblr filtration system is broken. It tags artistic work’s nipples as NSFW (when it is art), it tags SFW art as NSFW (when it is not), and does not stop the porn bots, neo-nazis and dozens of other issues.

This ban is discriminatory. This ban is ineffective. This ban is unacceptable. 

To protest, log off of your Tumblr account for the entirety of November 17th. Log off at 12 am EST or 9PM PST and stay off for 24 hours. Don’t post. Don’t log on. Don’t even visit the website. Don’t give them that sweet ad revenue. 

Tumblr’s stock has already taken a hard hit. Let’s make it tank. Maybe then they will listen to the users. 

Reblog to signal boost! We must force change.

The effects may be being felt already.  There are signs that Tumblr might be going down the same path as LiveJournal, when it likewise purged a wide swath of its members without warning.  Until steps are taken to reclaim the wider implications and restore its natural state as a porn-friendly site like everywhere else, the fate of Tumblr is ultimately up in the air.  If this is the hill they're willing to die on, well, that's their prerogative.

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