According to The Verve, “Tumblr will permanently ban adult content from its platform on December 17th in a move that will eradicate porn-related communities on the platform and fundamentally alter how the service is used. The ban includes explicit sexual content and nudity with a few exceptions.” Such content includes “female-presenting nipples and any media involving sex acts, including illustrations.”
This is all due to an Apple freak out. Somebody on Tumblr somewhere posted child pornography, so Apple removed the Tumblr app from its app store, creating this knee-jerk ban from Tumblr. I don’t condone child pornography, but people are people—good and bad—and post things—good and bad. The result is the rest of us (a massive, loving community of geeks, fans, and artists) being emotionally torn apart.
For me, it is emotional, but it’s a lot more than that. It’s downright scary.
I adore Tumblr. Ever since discovering the BBC Sherlock fandom, I’ve embraced Tumblr as a warm, safe space to drool over Benedict Cumberbatch and wallow in the Johnlock theories. Since then, I’ve moved on to join the hordes of Call Me By Your Name fans who giggle over every Timothee Chalamet / Armie Hammer hug.
As of yesterday, GIFs featuring Call Me By Your Name have been flagged as “adult content,” possibly due to the amount of skin or possibly due to the LGBTQ distinction. See, that’s the problem with Tumblr’s new method of “flagging” posts: it’s not an exact science, so if there’s too much flesh or something Puritanical Christian America deems “other,” it’s going to get flagged as explicit—and boom. Posts gets flagged; accounts get deleted.
A crucifixion painting of Jesus got flagged yesterday because of the nudity. So did the Venus de Milo, most likely because Venus is a female with (gasp) nipples.
Of course, Tumblr wants its followers to know everything is going to be all right because, “There are no shortage of sites on the internet that feature adult content.” Well, no shit, but do they really want a bunch of sexually curious eighteen-year-olds on Pornhub?
Tumblr is/was a safe space for young people to find sexual content that was not explicit in any way but beautiful. As I mentioned, Call Me By Your Name GIFs are being flagged. Want an example of one?
This moment of utter tenderness and fluff between Elio and Oliver is apparently not safe for consumption because heaven forbid we see two men naked and in love—mind you without their dicks flapping around.
For one Tumblr user, “I learned to embrace my sexuality through Tumblr. It is a place of much joy to me, not simply as a place to research, but a place to be creative, to discuss fandom, to build fandoms, and to make connections with people… in short—everything I have come to love and everything I will be sad to lose.”
Instead of a joyful, creative environment, Tumblr wants us to go to some porn site and watch an actress pretending to enjoy herself while being railed by some big, sweaty dude.
Tumblr is trying to cover its own ass by changing its image and, in turn, it is killing itself. We users are scrambling to find a place where it’s safe for us to be ourselves without fear of censorship or judgment—but we don’t know where to go because Tumblr has for years been a safe space where fans can get together and intelligently (and sometimes ridiculously) discuss not only our sexualities but also the perfection of Cumberbatch’s Sherlock hair and Chalamet’s jawline. There are literal hashtags like #hairporn as we jokingly embrace such innocent, escapist addictions when the real world—with its war and idiot politicians—becomes too much to handle. Now, using the word “porn” will probably get me deleted.
Once again, we’re back to “violence is okay but sex is not.” How dare we depict people in love? How dare we present a female nipple? How dare artists draw pictures of Sherlock and John in a heated embrace? None of that for kids, damn it! But violent video games in which we shoot exotic dancers is a-okay?
Ever since reading Fahrenheit 451 in eighth grade, I’ve feared censorship. I’ve watched it happen, little by little, via news stories about people wanting to burn books and laws that would allow florists to turn down a wedding on the basis of straight or gay. Yet, there was always Tumblr: this warm, happy place where I could squee over beautiful people, happy people, and make friends with geeks like me—friends I am now afraid to lose because of the mass Tumblr exodus.
Tumblr is where I’ve found most of my fan fiction readers. It’s where I market my novels (the covers of which, thankfully, only feature male nipples). It’s where I have given and received support from people who understand me—and now, it’s being butchered because the site itself went into Apple-induced panic mode (which, by the way, makes me rethink the terrifying cultural monopoly that is Apple).
I don’t want Tumblr to die, but the platform isn’t giving us much of a choice. I won’t be deleting my profile because I hope they see the error of their ways and reassess. I won’t delete my profile because Tumblr is where I go when I need to relax—and this bitch needs to relax. That said, Tumblr is turning its back on millions of dedicated users. It is changing, mutating, into something none of us ever asked for or wanted. If this is a sign of the times, please keep a look out. Soon, the firemen might be coming to burn your books. And I plan to burn with them.