After a big flip-flop it seems Tumblr.com may still be a safe space for porn...for now. Last month the site made a statement that they would be removing 'Adult' blogs from search, effectively making them invisible to anyone who didn't have the direct address or who had specifically requested adult content to show up in their feed (unchecked the 'Safe Mode' option in blog settings). After the initial confusion and backlash, the popular micro-blogging site took the criticism and responded by backtracking, explaining and quietly making changes all the while.
"Tumblr users with "Adult" and "NSFW" blogs can breathe a sigh of relief as Tumblr has moved quickly to restore its adult and NSFW blogs to both internal and external search, now under one "NSFW" category." via ZDNet
Before I could even get half way through writing this post, the story had already changed. As fast as you can reblog it, we might be in a different situation, but as things stand for now David Karp, tumblr's founder and CEO, has attempted to explain the policy and is keeping the site the way many of us like it; dirty, naked and raw.
I personally have helped to create, manage, or curate just about a million different tumblr blogs, some for sex toy reviews and other sexy stuff, escorts, others for social media related posts, online dating stories and all the things I find interesting. I've been a tumblr user, fan and advocate for a few years now, so when google and blogger made the recent announcement that they would no longer allow adult oriented advertising on their blogs, my first thought was, at least we still have tumblr. Others were more cautious to wonder; what does this mean for the popular free micro blogging site that was recently acquired by Yahoo? Will it stay true or eventually turn on (turn off?) us as well? Casting aside adult content and punishing any blog that was honest enough to flag itself as NSFW upon creation.
Momentarily, blogs were also able to designate as even more hardcore or "Adult" which meant they were relegated to the darkest and least accessible part of the site, pretty much impossible to find without the direct links.
The Adult category has since been discarded but the NSFW designation remains. The self identified NSFW category means your tumblr blog:
- will not appear in Tumblr's search and discovery features for logged-out users
- will not appear in Tumblr's search and discovery features for logged-in users browsing in Safe Mode
- will only appear in Tumblr's mobile search and discovery features for users who are already following you
Safe Mode is a default setting that is checked unless you go into tumblr's settings and change it, or possibly if you have a site that you've already marked NSFW. This means folks who may be looking for you or your content while signed in to tumblr will not find you unless they know enough to remove themselves from the default Safe Mode setting. But will tumblr change its story again?
Here are some of the headlines as the story unfolded and re-adjusted itself:
July 19, 2013 - Adult Tumblr blogs now removed from every form of search possible via ZDNet
Later that same day - Tumblr Staff Blog: "All, we’ve heard from a bunch of you who are..."
July 21, 2013 - After backlash Yahoo's Tumblr quietly restores adult, NSFW blogs
July 22, 2013 - "In the adult scrubbing of apps at least porn is not hard to find on tumblr" - How Porn Lost The Internet
July 23, 2013 - Tumblr Clarifies Porn Policies ... Again
August 8, 2013 - In the most recent turn of events links to the site extralunchmoney.com (ELM is 'a digital marketplace for buyers to directly interact with adult content creators') were suspiciously not able to save or post on the site. After bringing this to the attention of tumblr and extra lunch money's members the response was swift, links were fixed and we were told "sorry it was a glitch." The links work now, but some adult blogs haven't been so lucky. Like Facebook and blogger before them, Tumblr has also been quietly taking down adult content blogs with no warning and no explanation. via ErosBlog: Tumblr Censoring Select Adult Links
So now what? It looks like no one, especially anyone working with adult content, is safe in any of the widely available and popular free blogging environments. The best bet is to make sure your sites are backed up right now. There's no time like the present to look into hosting on your own as well, there is a small cost, but the security and peace of mind are worth it. Here's more info on backing up your adult tumblr blogs, and transferring tumblr to wordpress. Better safe than sorry!
It's really too bad Tumblr, I thought I loved you once...without your lovely porn...now I'm just not so sure anymore...