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Tumblr is banning all adult content in a major shift for the Verizon-owned platform

Tumblr adult content ban

Tumblr is implementing a major shift to its platform starting later this month, one that has some users up in arms but will make it a much more G-rated environment going forward. Of course, we’re talking about the porn and adult content that’s been so prevalent on the service for years, and which is now going to be stamped out completely.

Tumblr, one of the myriad digital properties now owned by Verizon, announced today that starting Dec. 17, “adult content will not be allowed on Tumblr regardless of how old you are.” That’s according to a company blog post today, which spells out in detail what’s no longer allowed. That includes “photos, videos, or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples, and any content — including photos, videos, GIFs and illustrations — that depicts sex acts.”

This follows Tumblr’s removal from the iOS App Store just a few days ago over concerns around the presence of child pornography. Indeed, Tumblr has had a bit of a colorful relationship over the years with porn, which has always constituted a significant part of its user-generated content.

After the site was bought by Yahoo five years ago, for example, Tumblr started hiding blogs that had been flagged as NSFW. They eventually disappeared from Tumblr search listings and were only able to be accessed by users logged into their accounts. And it’s been up and down from there, with adult content estimated at one point as comprising 10 to 20 percent of the site’s traffic, according to Ars Technica.

Naturally, some vocal displeasure has flared up over the porn ban.

Tumblr’s blog post about the news includes references to very narrow allowable exceptions, such as images related to breastfeeding. The company also says it’s not going to take down the blogs that include adult content — those blogs will just have to shift to posting permitted content going forward.

“It is our continued, humble aspiration that Tumblr be a safe place for creative expression, self-discovery, and a deep sense of community,” Tumblr CEO Jeff D’Onofrio said in a statement posted here. “As Tumblr continues to grow and evolve, and our understanding of our impact on our world becomes clearer, we have a responsibility to consider that impact across different age groups, demographics, cultures, and mindsets. We spent considerable time weighing the pros and cons of expression in the community that includes adult content. In doing so, it became clear that without this content we have the opportunity to create a place where more people feel comfortable expressing themselves.

“Bottom line: There are no shortage of sites on the internet that feature adult content. We will leave it to them and focus our efforts on creating the most welcoming environment possible for our community.”

Andy Meek profile photo

Andy Meek is a reporter who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming. Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.