Tumblr has announced a radical shift in its community guidelines: From the 17th of December, all adult content will be banned from its platform. According to the microblogging website, this includes photos, videos, or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples, and any content—including photos, videos, GIFs and illustrations—that depicts sex acts. An active sex-positive community that has found a safe space on Tumblr for years saw their worlds shattered overnight, their needs once again ignored.
In a digital environment increasingly defined by strict censorship laws, the loss of a safe haven such as Tumblr has been met with dismay and anger and left many questions unanswered. Artworks, snippets of intimacy and all kinds of sexual expression have been put in the unforgiving hands of an algorithm. We spoke to artists/porn creatives affected by this decision to find out why you should stop using Tumblr.
1 – The Ban Will Hurt Marginalised Groups
Tumblr has been a home for outcasts, that found a platform to express themselves and connect with each other. “Unlike typical pornography sites, which overwhelmingly cater to men, and serve an often narrow definition of what is attractive, Tumblr has been a home for something else – content tailored at vibrant LGBT communities, or for those with tastes you might not necessarily share with all your friends.” [Dave Lee/BBC]
Tumblr’s decision to ban all adult content is an absolute hypocrisy, which makes sense in our more and more absurd society. It is a huge step back on accepting body positive communities and is absolutely against creative freedom. This will affect many artists and marginal communities, especially LGBTQ+, Trans, non-binary, women & POC communities who will lose a safe space online. Again, it is, and as usual, a matter of big money! Apple deleting Tumblr’s app, which is, by the way, now owned by Verizon. We are in the numbers, big numbers. Rich become richer and poor, poorer. And all you can do is sit and watch the world collapse a little bit more everyday. And please, WORLD, stop talking to us about freedom. You have no idea what it is. (Laetitia Duveau – Co-founder & CEO Curated by Girls)
There are many amazing queer history blogs and vintage gay photography accounts that are an invaluable historical reference source – they will get wiped too. Plus saddest of all is the young trans community that find advice support and friendship. Tumblr has evolved into a safe space to go when there’s nowhere else. (Andrew Woodyatt – Queer Artist and Porn Historian)
2 – Freedom of Expression is at Risk
The ban is a threat to the freedom of sexual expression on social media. This form of censorship will silence an entire virtual community. Most social media platforms have stripped this community of its voice and now Tumblr has decided to do the same.
After so many years using social media and trying to promote my art, Tumblr was always the platform that makes me feel safe and secure. This censorship is now a giant leap backwards! There is no place for nudity, while racism and fascism are nowadays everywhere, especially present on social media! They try to shut us down so now it’s the time to react more especially through art! Never stop to expressing yourself and stay true to your beliefs. Even if they ban me from every social media, I’ll never stop producing art and I’ll never stop fighting for my rights and for a better society until my last breath! (George Kanis – Photographer)
3 – Tumblr is Destroying a Virtual Safe Space
Tumblr has promised a “better, more positive Tumblr”, but what does that mean for the communities that rely on Tumblr as their only place to express themselves freely on topics like art, sex positivity, relationships, sexuality, and personal journeys? The adult ban eradicates one of the very few safe spaces left for these topics.
Tumblr was a safe place for me. I opened it just for posting uncensored photos so people can see them in their full beauty which is very important for me. After this NSFW ban, I don’t have anymore a safe place in which I can express my idea about sexuality as an artist and as a person. Internet must be an open space in which people can talk, express and share problems, ideas, passions. All this censorship doesn’t help artists. We are regressing and it isn’t positive for anyone. As an artist, I find censorship offensive. I study and observe every day the body, the eroticism, the lights. I try to find every time something more deep behind everything, including nudity and sexuality. The censorship changes the photo and the idea behind. Everything is destroyed. It’s so difficult being an artist interested in sexuality: nearly all the social platforms censor everything. (Fe Mitikafe – Photographer)
4 -Porn Should be Respected as an Artistic Expression
Tumblr has started a process of digital suicide. By censoring nudity they are taking the step into the age-old discussion of what art is, and when does art become porn? How will they be defining this going forward? So many artists will have to take their work elsewhere, and some might not even be able to share their work anymore. (Olle Eriksson – Photographer)
I’ve had my Tumblr account for longer than most of my social media platforms. It’s where I explored the most, and where I went for inspiration. The mix of fashion photography, art, and porn, was always so beautiful to me, and it truly inspired me to create the work I do today. There was a fearlessness that Tumblr evoked from people. It was all about aesthetic and curation, and not about followers. It was like a constant mood board of ideas you could go to at any given time, while also probably getting turned on in the process. I am truly appalled at the decision Tumblr has made to shame so many of its vibrant communities, some of which, including my own, have been building for a decade. The most liberal platform on social media has turned its back on us and called us whores. However, this is the exact reason we must continue proudly and loudly creating art in the face of puritanical enforced censorship. Vive la résistance! (Sam Morris – Artist/Porn Performer)
5 – Tumblr will Lose its Last Active Community
I remember very clearly the sensations I felt when I once discovered this “hipster gay porn” tumblr. For the very first time, I was approaching porn in a sensitive way. How touching it was to discover the works of boys my age, that were just like me, and decided to reorganize the space of their room in a space of sensual experiment and share it with the world. I found their pictures very touching, poetic, sometimes even overwhelming. I was feeling so close to them sometimes, as if we were sharing a common intimate and safe space all together. Tumblr opened my mind to an alternative path of pornograaphy, something beautiful and inspiring. It brought me closer, not only to myself and my sexuality, but to a wide e-community where sex and beauty merged into something personal, bright, and pop. Nothing lasts forever, for sure, but should not end in shame either. (Pierre Emo – Porn Peformer)
Social Media and the internet as a whole is more and more being controlled by few. As sad as I am to lose Tumblr as a platform, I know that those affected will continue to fight for sexual freedom against the censored normalization of media. We are all naked and want to love. It’s time the world get used to it. (Oliver Sarley/Oliraptor – Photographer)