Is Tumblr's latest update its first step towards bringing back porn?

Tech 27-9-2022 Mashable 37
An illustration of a phone with the Tumblr logo on top of a keyboard.

Don't get too excited, but Tumblr may be taking steps to open the platform up to explicit content again. After a 2018 ban led to a notoriously devastating exodus from the microblogging site, users were tickled to notice a few interesting turns of phrase in a platform update.

A post from Tumblr's staff blog on Sept. 26 introduced a new feature called "Community Labels," which they hope will allow "everyone on Tumblr to be able to fully express themselves while also having control over what they encounter on their dashboards."

SEE ALSO: The inside story of how Tumblr lost its way

Bloggers can label themes of a post as falling under any of three buckets: drug and alcohol addiction, violence, and what Tumblr is calling "sexual themes," which is content that "contains sexually suggestive subject matter, such as erotic writing or imagery."

https://staff.tumblr.com/post/696482214233440256/introducing-community-labels-as-you-know-art-and

The announcement gave two examples of content that should be labeled as having sexual themes: "Fanart of your favorite ship engaging with each other in...a very private moment" and "A graphic 50 Shades of Grey edit."

Once labeled, content will either be hidden, blurred, or displayed normally according to each user’s preferences.

The end goal, says the platform, is "to create a more open Tumblr... a richer, more nuanced Tumblr experience" and that these updates are their "first step in that direction."

The announcement noted that "porn bots are still not welcome" and pointedly explained that it was imperative for the app to "abide by App Store rules... to make sure that mature content is only accessible to people who are old enough and have opted in to view that type of content."

But users on Tumblr are already heralding the return of the Tumblr of yore:

Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab)
Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab)
Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab)

Still, others are cautioning against getting too hopeful:

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It's true that celebration may be premature, since there is a huge gap between "erotic imagery" and full-blown porn. But the Community Labels update does seem like a positive indication that Tumblr may be finding a middle-ground that serves both their community and their business.


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