Tumblr Hides Porn from Search Results

Tumblr hides porn

Earlier this year, after Yahoo acquired Tumblr in a $1 billion deal, the social media starlet stated it would make no changes to the way people can access porn. That seemingly has now changed as users are stating posts flagged as adult are now censored from the website search. Mobile users state some porn tags are eliminated completely from their mobile devices.

The change in itself shouldn’t surprise anyone, after all Yahoo is looking to expand its ability to promote advertising spots. Advertisers are leery of making deals with an outlet that connects itself so highly to ‘Not Safe For Work’ (NSFW) results. Tumblr released a statement on its site yesterday stating,

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:

1. Last year, we added “Safe Mode” which lets you filter out NSFW content from tag and search pages. This is enabled by default for new users and can be toggled in your Dashboard Settings. As some of you have pointed out, disabling Safe Mode still wasn’t allowing search results from all blogs to appear. This has been fixed.

2. Some search terms are blocked (returning no results) in some of our mobile apps. Unfortunately, different app environments have different requirements that we do our best to adhere to. 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. The solution is more intelligent filtering which our team is working diligently on. We’ll get there soon. In the meantime, you can browse #lgbtq — which is moderated by our community editors — in all of Tumblr’s mobile apps. You can also see unfiltered search results on tumblr.com using your mobile web browser.

3. 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.

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.

Sorry for all of the confusion. If you have any more concerns or suggestions on how we can make these features clearer or more useful, please email us!

Those who dabble in the porn industry and are not happy with Tumblr. Many state they feel betrayed by the promise from Tumblr to never undergo default filtering. One user named ‘Slugbox’ took to Tumblr to explain his dissatisfaction, “They have not technically censored us. Rather, they have made it essentially impossible for us to find and engage with new connections and people, by completely cutting us off from all forms of discovery.”

‘Slugbox’ is correct, Tumblr isn’t blocking, but allowing their site to become more user and advertiser friendly. This is a similar set-up for a search engine giant like Google. The ability to review adult material is still available, but users will have to manually work the filter to determine the degree of nudity permissible.

While this may challenge a new user to see the instant results without toggling with the safe mode, individuals can still have access to adult material once they remove the safe mode. In addition, Tumblr users shouldn’t be too surprised with flip-flop changes from Tumblr. It seems it does so on porn and advertising. CEO David Karp stated three years ago to the ‘Los Angeles Time,’ “We’re pretty opposed to advertising,” adding, “It really turns our stomachs.”

It was Karp and not Yahoo who attended the Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity to pitch advertising space on Tumblr, calling it “an effective place to spend their ad dollars.” Now, that Yahoo is running the back office, previous promises by Tumblr are on shaky ground as each part of the site undergoes review. Some expecting more changes to appease interested advertisers. The new filter policies could empower new advertisers or backfire as users are unable to access adult tags and posts as easily as once promised.

Angelina Bouc

Sources 1, 2

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