Tumblr's Porn Filter Flags Its Own Examples Of 'Permitted' Nudity

Screenshot: Tumblr

According to Tumblr, its new adult content ban doesn’t effect images of “female-presenting nipples” that involve medical situations, are related to political speech, or appear in artwork.

Tumblr itself, however, apparently can’t come up with four examples of this its porn filter actually allows.

On Monday, Tumblr’s staff account published a message aimed at “clarify[ing]” the new policy, which takes effect today. Embedded in the post was a gif providing several examples of nudity that is “still permitted within our policy.”

Permitted when posted by Tumblr’s official account, maybe, but still flagged when uploaded by regular users.

Screenshot: Tumblr

When Gizmodo posted the gif to Tumblr ourselves, it was immediately flagged as a potential violation and hidden by the platform’s filter. When the images shown in the gif were uploaded individually, two of the four examples — which appeared to show a breast ultrasound and a pro-choice protest, respectively — were similarly flagged and hidden.

In the week since the Community Guidelines update was first announced, numerous users have spoken out against it, questioning both its gendered scope and the aggressive, often inexplicable actions of its filter.

In recent days, the platform has allegedly flagged a picture of a finger, historical bus photos, and Great British Bake-Off gifs. Tumblr can now add its own content to that list.

We have reached out to Tumblr for comment and will update this story if and when they respond.


Comments

    Tumblr will lose a lot of users from this change. A lot of what made the platform so great to use was its ability to create a safe place to view adult content, without the risk of going to questionable websites that would inundate you with spam and viruses. Instead of them tackling the issue head on with regards to offensive (illegal) material they basically carpet bombed the entire user base. A sad day for creative freedom and expression.

    Pretty cool to see internet history happening before your eyes. I can now say I remember when Tumblr died

    This is what happens when censorship is attempted.

    Most people couldn't care less about porn on the internet. A minority, rather than looking the other way, is kicking up a stink and causing some big players to have knee-jerk reactions.

    Google is the best example of how to handle porn. Introduce a safe-search option. Job done.

      The perv in me turns off safe search quick smart.

        Not necessarily for a perv, but no algorithm is perfect and safe seach could filter out what you're looking for.

      Wasn't the main problem here that their existing filter was too permissive and was allowing users to publish kiddie porn?

      I suspect they don't particularly care if the new filter over-blocks: rather that reductions in the user base are acceptable.

        There was no filter beforehand. They pretty much entirely relied on user reporting.

      While this was a heavy-handed and self-defeating attempt at censorship, it's worth pointing out that it didn't happen because of porn per-se. It was because of a certain sub-set of porn that kept popping up on Tumblr, a kind which you might have a much harder time saying 'oh never mind, just ignore it' about.

      you Sir have hit upon the problem, they can complain and complain and complain until they get their way and they only need to get it once before its set in stone for a long while.

    will be interesting to see where the porn artists etc congregate now

    Tumblr coming in as a late challenger to Fallout 76 for Biggest Own Goal of the Year award.

    Haha political speech, what if it's political speech about how people believe circumcision is barbaric and there is a bunch of dudes with their dongs out why isn't that OK.

    Or a slut walk with a bunch of completely naked women, how long until people complain about that and they allow that kind of nudity, keep moving the goal posts until you say "Fuck it just post porn again"

      Even the US Supreme Court couldn’t figure this one out. From arguments about intent vs how intent doesn’t matter if someone can use it for sexual gratification (which in turn failed because you can say that about foot models in a target catalogue for some people), with the end result literally being, “We can’t define it, but we know it when we see it.”

      This whole stubborn exercise feels to me like someone with influence had a freak-out and is on a crusade, or some shitty lawyers have some lazy-ass advice that this is the only way they could guarantee everyone stays out of jail.

        Or its because the Apple Store pulled Tumbler because of the stuff there trying to get ride of. That is far more likely the case.

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