Tumblr on iPhone XS

Tumblr Returns to The App Store as Adult Content Ban Nears

The month-long saga of Tumblr and the App Store is over.  Yesterday, the micro-blogging app returned to the store as the service’s adult content ban is set to start on Monday, December 17.  The app is available for both iPhone and iPad.

In November, the Tumblr app suddenly disappeared from the App Store without warning.  At the time, the company said they were working with Apple to sort out issues with the app.  It turned out, however, that there was potentially child pornography on the site which is what triggered the ban.  Tumblr, like other social networks, uses databases to catch child porn before it is ever posted but, in this case, the content wasn’t in the database yet.  

At that point, the social networking company made what many have considered a knee-jerk reaction.  They banned all adult content from the site.  While there is little debate that Tumblr was a haven for those seeking porn, the ban has impacted more than just the genre.  It has impacted LBGQT blogs, breastfeeding blogs, and other non-porn sites.  The ban is currently being driven by an AI engine which has not been properly flagging blogs.  

In a word, it has been messy.  If Tumblr had cracked down on “porn bots” and truly managed the content, it would have been met with little resistance for most.  Instead, they chose to use a kill-switch for all adult content, sweeping up many benign blogs with it.

The official ban is set to start on December 17 at which point there are many questioning if the service will survive long term.

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