Sunday, December 09, 2018

tumblr purge

It's a very sad moment for all of us who have loved tumblr over the last years, as the site will cease to exist in the form we knew from Monday 17th of December, also known as Black Monday. The site's unique selling point so far has been its complete openness to all things that humans obsess about, from a broad range of sexual flavours to popular culture fandoms and even hard science. It was also famous as a safe space for discussing mental health issues.

I've used tumblr since 2011, and identified my main account there as a book blog since September 2013. These years have been very educational, and I have written several features that were inspired by things I learned on tumblr (eg: online cultures; sharks)

From the 17th, the site will follow the lead of facebook and instagram and ban all things that could be vaguely seen as erotic, including, most notoriously, what the new user guidelines describe as "female-presenting nipples". Needless to say I'll be mostly blogging female-presenting nipples for the remainder of the time.

I really don't think the site can survive the exodus that is bound to happen. Nearly half a million people have signed the petition against the ban already. If they leave tumblr, the nature of networks says they will take others with them, so there will be millions of users missing. And tumblr will be left with Harry Potter fanfiction and nazis (because they, strangely, don't seem to be offensive to the new management).

While the tumblr AI is learning how to enact the purge, new posts allegedly violating the policy get flagged with a red bar at the top. Yesterday I shared a story about this from the guardian on tumblr. It got flagged immediately:

It would be funny if it wasn't so sad. (Oh, and by the way, I have suggested to my followers not to challenge the ridiculous flagging decisions. It's not in our interest to help the company improve its censorship AI.)

Other articles about the purge and its likely reasons (Apple emerges as a likely culprit in this story):

When Tumblr bans porn, who loses?
Verizon is leaving the engine of internet culture to sputter and die, and its communities to scramble for a new home.
Kaitlyn Tiffany

Tumblr's Porn Ban Reveals Who Controls What We See Online
Paris Martineau

Tumblr is banning adult content. It’s about so much more than porn.
Tumblr’s adult content ban is already harming the site’s vibrant community.
Aja Romano

Images of Jesus and superheroes caught up in Tumblr porn ban
Alex Hern

And one in French from France Culture:
Tumblr et le porno - Quand le capital dicte la morale

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