Tumblr Makes a Big Porn Policy Reversal

    July 22, 2013
    Josh Wolford
    

Here’s the thing about porn: no matter how you try to push it down, hide it, and otherwise prevent internet users from accessing it – porn will find a way.

Ask Tumblr CEO David Karp, who over the weekend issued a ‘clarification’ that really amounted to a reversal in policy concerning “NSFW & Adult’ blog visibility on the site. This move came in response to user backlash over a recent shift in Tumblr’s adult content policies that didn’t quite remove porn from the network, but made it a hell of a lot hard to find.

“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. Let me clear up (and fix) a few things,” said Karp in a blog post.

Last week, Tumblr introduced a new Adult blogs guidelines page that explained the blog network’s new rules concerning blogs tagged as both “NSFW” (mildly racy) and “Adult” (super racy). Per the new rules, both NSFW and Adult blogs could no longer appear in search pages for logged-out users and Adult blogs were stricken from both third party search engines (like Google) and Tumblr own internal search.

Cue the outrage.

Karp addresses the issue with the three-pronged approach. First, he says that they have fixed a “bug” that was preventing adult blogs from appearing in search results even when Safe Mode had been disabled.

Second, Karp explains that there’s really nothing to be done about some tag searches being blocked in their mobile apps. The prevalence of porn related to many tag searches is risky to Tumblr’s standing in some app universes. Basically, Karp says that they could get banned for promoting such content. Good news, however: you can still access all of it from Tumblr’s mobile site.

Finally, and most importantly, Karp says that adult blogs will now be placed back into Google:

“Earlier this year, 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. This was never intended to be an opt-in flag, but for some reason could be enabled after checking off NSFW → Adult in your blog settings. This was confusing and unnecessary, so we’ve dropped the extra option. If your blog contains anything too sexy for the average workplace, simply check “Flag this blog as NSFW” so people in Safe Mode can avoid it. Your blog will still be promoted in third-party search engines,” he says.

The previous move to restrict adult blogs from third party searches could have affected as many as 12.5 million blogs -making them virtually untrackable via search. This reversal should fix that. Blog owners, you can now exhale.

“Aside from these fixes, there haven’t been any recent changes to Tumblr’s treatment of NSFW content, and our view on the topic hasn’t changed. Empowering your creative expression is the most important thing in the world to us. Making sure people aren’t surprised by content they find offensive is also incredibly important and we are always working to put more control in your hands,” says Karp.

Porn and Tumblr go hand in hand – we know there’s a lot of it on the site. After Yahoo acquired Tumblr back in May, CEO Marissa Mayer said that Yahoo would not be restricting content. Later, Karp echoed her sentiment.

But they did try to make it very hard to find. Now, NSFW blog owners can rest knowing their content won’t be completely buried.

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Josh Wolford
Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf