Tumblr Casts Wide Net, Bans All Adult Content

If you’ve used Tumblr in the past, you know what it’s for. Catering to all manners of subgenres and categories, you don’t see the real scope of what the social blogging site has to offer until you turn off Safe Mode. At least, that was the case before this month. Due in no small part to its relatively new place under the Verizon corporate umbrella, Tumblr is moving forward with a ban on all adult content starting on December 17, 2018.

Content creators who have posted this type of content in the past are in the process of being notified so they have time to back up their work. As soon as the policy goes into effect, any content of this manner detected by Tumblr’s algorithm will be set to private, effectively erasing it from public consumption. In a blog post (titled “A Better, More Positive Tumblr”), the site’s staff specifies that it is going after anything involving genitals, female-presenting nipples, and sex acts. This includes illustrations but does not include any text-based material.

These posts are already being flagged as of now and include a range of images that seem less than scandalous. Creators took to Twitter to share just how widespread the flagging seems to be.


Even professional artists can’t avoid the purge. Here’s Overwatch concept artist Anh Dang showcasing some of her own art. Despite depicting vacationing turtles and mech suits, Tumblr’s algorithm still deems it as unacceptable.

As with any event that threatens to erase huge swaths of Internet content, preservationists are on the case. The Internet Archive are the proprietors of the Internet Wayback Machine and a huge trove of otherwise abandoned media. Its staff is already working out exactly how they’re going to save content from this mass erasure. If you have any free bandwidth, it’s well worth looking into the Archiveteam and saving what you can.

Tumblr’s new stance is against what appears to be the majority of its content. However, this makes more sense when you consider the site’s ownership. Oath is the web unit of Verizon, attempting to compete with giants like Google and Amazon. Tumblr falls under Yahoo, which forms the majority of Oath alongside AOL. The company also included go90, a failed streaming video service focused around Verizon’s smartphone lineup. Verizon recently came under fire for hosting child pornography on the blogging site, a controversy which caused Apple to remove Tumblr from the iOS App Store.

Photo by Aditya Irawan/NurPhoto via Getty Images