Tumblr’s New Adult Filters Block Gay Content—And Not Just Porn

6C8314380-tumrblr.blocks_desktop_smallTumblr has long been seen as the anything-goes platform, where users know they might see something that shocks, offends or titillates them. But now that Yahoo acquired the site, and is looking to monetize, those Wild West days are fleeting fast.
Mashable reports that on Thursday Tumblr altered its policy on finding and viewing adult and NSFW content:

The new changes primarily concern the display of blogs and posts in search and on mobile. Blogs classified as NSFW (ones that contain occasional nudity or adult content) or adult (ones that contain mostly nudity or adult-oriented material) will not show up in tag pages or search pages for users that are not logged in or who have ‘Safe Mode’ turned on.

If you’re logged in to Tumblr and do not have “Safe Mode” turned on, NSFW blogs should show up on search and tag pages. Blogs deemed “adult,” however, are now no longer indexed by third-party search engines or by Tumblr’s own search.

The site defines adult content as having “substantial nudity or mature/adult-oriented content,” and NSFW blogs “contain occasional nudity or mature/adult-oriented content.” The call is supposed to be made by bloggers themselves, but may be overridden by staff (or more likely, robots).

According to Tumblr’s policy, blogs flagged NSFW:

  • Will not appear in Tumblr’s search and discovery features for logged-out users
  • Will not appear in Tumblr’s search and discovery features for logged-in users browsing in Safe Mode
  • Will only appear in Tumblr’s mobile search and discovery features for users  already following you
Screen Shot 2013-07-20 at 4.37.39 PMBlogs tagged as adult won’t show up on the Dashboards of logged-out users, in Tumblr search results or external search engines like Google or Bing. Tumblr’s three-year-old erotica category has been removed entirely.
Things have gotten even more stringent on Tumblr’s mobile app: Searches for tags that aren’t inherently NSFW—like #gay or #lesbian—won’t turn up any results, whether porn, news or scientific research.
When you’re dealing with a site used by millions, haphazard filters are considered a necessary evil: No one can hire enough moderators to look at every Tumblr page—or every site a high-school student might log onto in the school library.
But more than 12 million Tumblr blogs have been classified as “adult.” That’s a lot of invisible content. And how long before Yahoo gets even stricter in its drive for advertising dollars?
Mashable’s Christina Warren suggests an NSFW “opt-in” feature, like Google’s, that leaves the barn door wide open if you give your consent. But we shouldn’t have to look at adult babies or bukake clips just to see something about queer culture. How about realizing the cultural conversation has evolved, and “gay” doesn’t necessarily mean “NSFW”?




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