Tumblr, the social media platform founded in 2007, is making changes to its community content guidelines that will be enacted on December 17th of this month. The change they are implementing is a complete ban on pornographic and content it deems improper.
During the past few days, the social media app has slowly begun removing content that goes against its new policy; however, it hasn't exactly proven to be accurate. Several users have reported issues that their harmless content has been flagged by the platform without reason. Art that shows "female-presenting nipples" have also been flagged (yes, that is an actual quote from what they deem to be improper). It seems, there is an internal issue with the flagging system created by the Tumblr staff.
Over the years, Tumblr has been utilized by a lot of LGBTQ+ youth in helping promote safe spaces, better ideologies, inclusivity, and more on it. Because of this, there are posts that show couples kissing in victorious ways against all odds with harmless, heartfelt captions, and yet, even this is getting reported. It seems the system Tumblr is implementing, cannot make proper distinctions necessary to accurately flag content that goes against its new policy. In actuality, some of the biggest issues within the app remain.
Unfortunately, it is common knowledge that there are sections of Tumblr that have child pornography and pro-nazi hate rhetoric, which is an obvious discomfort for frequent users and the overall community. After some investigation, users have discovered that the system barely affects this. While pro-lgbtq+ messages are becoming banned, hate speech remains. This draws similarity between the original YouTube algorithms implemented last year and still sometimes remain that affect anything involving sexual education, uplifting lgbtq+ issues, and other subjects of that nature into being labeled as inappropriate for minors. While in some cases, this may be true, in most, they're perfectly normal content that is fine for anyone to see.
Looking at Tumblr's new policy from an outside perspective, it's easy to misinterpret the anger users may have. You could assume that people are merely angry at the fact that pornographic content is being eliminated; however, as stated, it goes beyond that. The ban on content is not only inaccurate but because of its inability to properly identify content, it affects artwork and regular blogs that should never be affected.
During the past few days, Tumblr itself has been considered as "killing its own platform" amongst its users. Users in the past actually have pointed out and started petitions to reach out to staff to eliminate the pornographic bots and horrible inappropriate content that plagued the app, but instead of coding a better application, the inclusion of this new flagging system was done instead.
Blogs feel unheard, unappreciated, and attacked by a system that clearly does more harm than the good it was intended for. Ironically, the app's effort in making it more appealing for people has actually led users to move to Twitter because of the poor algorithm of the system. One blog which would rather remain anonymous even stated, "had Tumblr implemented ideas and concepts that we've been requesting to eliminate the kind of content they hate, no one would have had an issue, but even now while users are encountering massive problems with the system they are set to integrate, they are not hearing us and we've had enough."
Currently, the future of Tumblr seems bleak. It's hard to believe that a social media application can become more successful and appealing by turning away the users that have supported it. One thing is eliminating pornography, which is fine, but unless they improve their system to better identify the flagged content they wish to remove, they're risking flagging harmless content that puts regular blogs in danger of being suspended. If an improvement isn't made, 2019 might not be great for the app.