Tumblr Reminds Us Why Creators Need to Own Their Platform, Part Three
Almost like clockwork, every couple years Tumblr gives us another example of how if you don’t own your own platform, you don’t get to decide what you can say.
Now Tumblr has decided to ban the content that is really the only reason for Tumblr to exist in the first place.
From The Verge:
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, the company tells The Verge. The new policy’s announcement comes just days after Tumblr was removed from Apple’s iOS App Store over a child pornography incident, but it extends far beyond that matter alone. “Adult content will no longer be allowed here,” the company flatly stated in a blog post published on Monday.
Banned content includes photos, videos, and GIFs of human genitalia, female-presenting nipples, and any media involving sex acts, including illustrations. The exceptions include nude classical statues and political protests that feature nudity. The new guidelines exclude text, so erotica remains permitted. Illustrations and art that feature nudity are still okay — so long as sex acts aren’t depicted — and so are breastfeeding and after-birth photos.
After December 17th, any explicit posts will be flagged and deleted by algorithms. For now, Tumblr is emailing users who have posted adult content flagged by algorithms and notifying them that their content will soon be hidden from view. Posts with porn content will be set to private, which will prevent them from being reblogged or shared elsewhere in the Tumblr community.
The worst part about this isn’t the ban; it’s that Tumblr is inept at automation, and they are bound to screw this up.
In the past Tumblr has taken down an entire account in response to the most ridiculous DMCA notices, and now they same inept programmers are going to be building porn checking bots.
To reiterate the point I and others have repeatedly made, if you don’t own your online presence you’re just malprogrammed bot or one bogus DMCA notice away from being shut down. It doesn’t matter if your content is on WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Flickr, Youtube, etc, if it is someone else’s platform then you’re still at risk.
This time around it’s going to kill Tumblr. The first to go will be all the communities that the prudes don’t approve of, and everyone else will follow them to greener pastures as the bots block more and more content.
That is going to lead to a feedback loop; as the ineptly programmed bots drive people away, traffic will go down, leading to more programmers being pulled for other projects. This will increase the number of bot errors, forcing more to depart, and so on.
Edit: And the bots are already screwing up.
Tumblr signed its death warrant today. The best it can hope for now is that someone will by the husk afterwards and revive a pale shadow of its former glory – you know, like what happened with Digg.