There has been so much controversy around what Tumblr has become lately. The micro-blogging site went from being a popular platform years ago to it being more of an empty landscape with not much appeal. And it looks like Tumblr is potentially going to be less popular with its decision to restrict access to more of its content on the iOS app.
Usually, trying to appeal to more people and keeping it more kid-friendly would work on a lot of other platforms. But Tumblr, despite its origins of trying to make a platform for simple multimedia posts, instead became a centre for an insane amount of pornographic content.
I used Tumblr back in its heyday (around 2010-2013) and I did come across a wide variety of nude or pornographic content once in a while on my feed. While I felt like it was fairly tame, I had no idea that the platform was also providing a space for child pornography and even alt-right ideology.
Trump himself even had a Tumblr account last year where he was incredibly active—after other social media sites banned him. He did, however, remove his account after just one month.
In late 2018, Tumblr announced that it would be getting rid of its pornographic content after its iOS app was pulled from the Apple App Store. While it did help get rid of its terrible child pornography problem, it did also result in people leaving the platform because of its limitations. Tumblr’s strict and confusing new rules included allowing “female-presenting nipples”, but only if they are shown “in connection with breastfeeding, birth or after-birth moments, and health-related situations, such as post-mastectomy or gender confirmation surgery.”
In a blog post last week, Tumblr noted that users “may see some differences for search terms and recommended content that can contain specific types of sensitive content”. They continued saying that in order to comply with the App Store’s guidelines, they had to adjust “what you’re able to access”.
“We understand that, for some of you, these changes may be very frustrating we understand that frustration, and we are sorry for any disruption that these changes may cause. Please know that on the near horizon, there will be meaningful developments that will overhaul how you choose to access sensitive content safely on Tumblr—whether visiting us on mobile, mobile web or through our website,” said Tumblr.
The new iOS app update would mean that searching for certain terms or phrases that fall under Tumblr’s expanded definition of “sensitive content” will bring up fewer results. In certain cases, searches will lead users to an empty page that says, “this content has been hidden because of potentially suggestive or explicit content”. Blogs that are flagged as explicit cannot be accessed via the iOS app, but would still be available on the desktop site.
“While we don’t have an exact timeline for how long these changes will be in effect, we are working on additional features that will allow for a less restricted iOS app experience,” said Tumblr.