Tumblr Clarifies Porn Policies ... Again

Jul 23, 2013 1:30 PM PST

NEW YORK — Porn stars can continue to rely on Tumblr — or can they? Founder David Karp decided to quell rampant speculation, anger and Steven Colbert's accusations by clarifying Tumblr’s postion on porn in a blog post published last week.

“All, we’ve heard from a bunch of you who are concerned about Tumblr censoring NSFW/adult content. While there seems to be a lot of misinformation flying around, most of the confusion seems to stem from our complicated flagging/filtering features,” Karp began his statement.

Superseding passive explanation — Colbert accused Tumblr’s founder of ignoring the “elephant in the room” on his talk show — Karp details the issues that his team addressed and “fixed.”

Karp acknowledged that the seemingly innocent NSFW designation required by explicit content didn’t just alert viewers of the potential breasts-to-come, it removed the material from tag pages and the dashboards of logged-out users even when “safe mode” was disabled.

Disgruntled Tumblr users cried fink and accused Karp of creating a porn ghetto; but the blog clarifies, “this has been fixed.”

He then addressed the inconsistency of search results on mobile devices.

“The reason you see innocent tags like #gay being blocked on certain platforms is that they are still frequently returning adult content which our entire app was close to being banned for,” he wrote.

Again answering proactively, he says that the solution is more “intelligent filtering,” which is currently in development. In the meanwhile, Tumblr suggests that users try creative alternative search terms, like #lgbtq in lieu of #gay.

The third and final point addressed certain blogs being barred from being accessed through third-party search engines, suggesting it was a technical error.

“In an effort to discourage some not-so-nice people from using Tumblr as free hosting for spammy commercial porn sites, we started delisting this tiny subset of blogs from search engines like Google,” he wrote.

Unwittingly, developers had added an “opt in” flag that could be enabled after checking off the NSFW Adult tag in blog settings for noncommerical "nice" people. Karp says, “This was confusing and unnecessary, so we’ve dropped the extra option.”

The blog underscores Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s original promise to “let Tumblr be Tumblr,” porn presumably intact, but reiterates its responsibility to prevent people from being “surprised by content they find offensive.”

“We are always working to put more control in your hands,” the post concludes.

Some people still aren't buying Tumblr's (or other potential porn platform's) "everybody wins" mentality. BuzzFeed published an article yesterday debunking "rule 34" by claiming that Internet moguls, like Tumblr, are sweeping porn under the table to turn profits and appease company big wigs.

“Censorship is a government act, but most often these are company policy issues," XBIZ Senior Edior Stephen Yagielowicz told BuzzFeed. "You can lean on boards of directors and they can lobby to change these companies’ terms of service.” 

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