Tumblr's Trouble: An Opinion
The decision to get rid of erotica, adult-themed posts, and "female presenting nipples" has left many users out in the cold on this early December 17.
By now, everyone has heard about Tumblr's decision to eliminate all things adult-oriented by the 17th. The website claims that non-erotic nude art is safe, but Instagram user (and painter) Dan Lacey (aka danlaceythepainterofpancakes) can tell you firsthand that this exception is a lie. The cut-off date is also a lie, as there have been several sex workers and non-sex work creators/users who've been flagged and/or have had things removed from their blogs the moment that the first decree was released. Not to mention, they're marked as NSFW whether they want to be or not. Repeat offenders are set to be removed completely. Meanwhile, the porn bots that have plagued Tumblr for a while are still out to play. (I get followed by at least three to four a day.)
I don't want to review the rules, talk about what cases sped up this overhaul, or what some anonymous former staff worker of Tumblr said. I don't want to think about the corrupt accusation that they wanted to profit off of Black Lives Matter. There are users all over the site who have piping hot tea for you on all those details. I've been using Tumblr for over eight years, and I think it's interesting how something that was so important to many of us is suddenly becoming a website we're ready to cast aside in favor of a better platform. What else is there? I wondered as I deleted Tumblr from my phone and tablet, logging out for good on my PC. I'd stop coming as often as I used to anyway. Still, the move was messy.
So, where are people going?
Sex workers are thinking of Pornhub, Rude, ManyVids, and a few other places to post what they do. Artists are looking at Patreon and a collective of sites like Flickr and Twitter. Some are returning to the likes of Facebook, and I'm sure the rest might be back at DeviantArt. There are so many undiscovered hubs to call home, and Tumblr is setting themselves up to lose a lot of people over a lack of a better game plan concerning porn bots and battling child pornography. Obviously, these are both serious issues that need to be dealt with. Child pornography should not be, period. The bots usually have stolen pictures linked to questionable websites, and they're like filthy bugs following and following users despite attempts to report and block.
I do believe that the issues have to be tackled, but why are users who aren't engaging in those activities being penalized? It's like seeing a huge hole in the wall and covering it up with a giant poster of Aerosmith to hide the problem. The hole's still there, but now there's this cover-up to distract you from the real issues.
See, there's a collective bunch of super-racist, super-nationalist people with blogs still standing tall, "because of free speech." I think it's totally different when one has the power to incite people to kill and riot, versus another kind where some horny kid discovers their body. Or a woman wants to "celebrate her curves" a la Kim Kardashian, and post a fine nude or two. Now all of a sudden she can't because Tumblr doesn't want to take the time to sort out actual people from rotten bots and child pornographers.
There are algorithms that are pretty much stalkers, based on your purchase and web-surfing habits. There are all kinds of software to detect when you've got copy written music on your videos, but you're telling me a Yahoo-Verizon owned joint can't sort the riff-raff from the truth? How interesting.
This so-called move to make Tumblr "a better place" is nothing more than a low-budget power move to make it a profitable digital market to whomever Yahoo and Verizon wants to sell themselves to. It's bad enough that since the acquisition took place, we see advertisements galore. That the place where many of us used to hang, laugh and look at nice art is being compromised for the best profit.
Don't get me wrong, I am sure all the SFW material will keep the lights on. The non-pictorial soft core writing will keep the engine humming, and the borderline whatnots best suited for Lifetime TV will keep an audience. Tumblr will survive, but it's gonna struggle to do so. People flocked to Tumblr to do what Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Instagram would not let them do. The threat of following in their footsteps means that the same old story happens once more: the people flock elsewhere.
Freedom of speech is wonderful but comes with consequences. People always miss that part. Society sometimes turns a blind eye. It saves us from the government, not from having to face negativity over what we have said or published for the rest of the world to see. So, I guess that's what is happening to some of us. Our consequence is that our content, owned or not, is getting flagged and removed. We are off to search for other places to express ourselves. We aren't truly free to celebrate certain parts of ourselves.
In an attempt to save the people, Tumblr alienates so many others. Instead of taking meticulous time to fix the issue, they'd rather silence a whole community of people who just want to express themselves. An alternative Tumblr would have been a better choice. Somebody is going to create the next boat that's specifically for the erotic crowd. Or the next Tumblr, to rival the one that stands. There are companies now who're opening their arms to the lost ones. People are discovering new places and Reddit boards to call home. Perhaps Tumblr is ready for that, and us rebel riffraff scum were pre-destined to leave our Tumblrina shells, to begin with.
Well played, Tumblr.
There comes a time when we outgrow the things that used to bring us joy. Tumblr has given us a lot of good information, a lot of bad grapevine gossip, and some viral tidbits that will never be forgotten. The world will keep on turning, and maybe I'll have more time to work on my writing.
[If you like my musings, please consider donating. Writing is my first love, my passion, and I want to share it with the world. I'm a Senior at UT Martin trying to pay off late tuition fees and a payment plan account for my PC.]