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There is tens of billions of pornographic content on microblogging website Tumblr, and a lot of it has now been hidden from public view.

Some weeks ago, Tumblr announced a ban on adult content on its website and the measure took effect on December 17. Tumblr said that it has painstakingly hidden, but not deleted, content in the form of GIFs, images and videos that displays explicit imagery.

According to the site, banned material 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.”

Photorealistic imagery with real humans that include exposed genitals or female-presenting nipples or depict sex acts is also not allowed.

When the ban was announced on December 3, some users were not happy, terming it a suppression of freedom of expression, especially as regards sexuality.

In a blog post on December 17, Tumblr apologised to its users while acknowledging that the application of the changes will not be easy.

“We are sorry that this has not been an easy transition and we know we can do a better job of explaining what we’re doing. We knew this wasn’t going to be an easy task and we appreciate your patience as we work through the challenges and limitations of correctly flagging tens of billions of GIFs, videos, and photos,” Tumblr said.

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The microblogging site also said that this transition, which it did not expect to happen overnight, will continue to be implemented as the website figures out the best way of going about the new measure.

“This is a complex problem, and over the coming weeks we will gradually, and carefully, flag more adult content. (Yes, we will still make mistakes, but hopefully fewer and fewer.).”

Flagged content, as per Tumblr, will not be deleted with the website saying any user can still view their content but that the banned material will not be visible to anyone else. “Don’t forget too that you can download your content. It’s yours after all, and we don’t take that lightly.”

Users who feel their content has been misclassified as adult content can appeal to the website, who have provided exceptions of imagery that is still acceptable.

Of the acceptable content is “exposed female-presenting nipples in connection with breastfeeding, birth or after-birth moments, and health-related situations, such as post-mastectomy or gender confirmation surgery.”

Written content such as erotica, nudity related to political or newsworthy speech, and nudity found in art, specifically sculptures and illustrations, is also allowed on Tumblr amid the new guidelines.

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The ban did not go down well with users, with some writing what they perceived as eulogies of the website as well as others preparing to migrate their content to other porn friendly platforms.

An opinion piece in the New York Times, written by a former head of communications at Google Jessica Powell, said the ban will destroy a safe space for self-expression, discovery and connection for women and the LGBTQ+ community.

Ms. Powell wrote, “While we can get hung up on debating what kind of content should or shouldn’t be allowed on a particular platform, none of that alters an equally important but less-visible problem: When tech companies tackle large-scale problems with large-scale solutions, underrepresented groups are often further marginalized as a result.”

The former Google executive’s opinion piece also blamed an American tendency to “ignore public debate about the censorship of sex and the human body” and instead “get more offended by the sight of a female-presenting nipple than by guns, hate speech or violence.”

Ms. Powell did however acknowledge it is a tough nut to crack for Tumblr, especially with the site having discovered child pornography on its platform and with the new measure being a less expensive move as opposed to investing in regulating pornographic material on the site.

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In the post that Tumblr announced the ban on adult content, the website had written this.

“It is our continued, humble aspiration that Tumblr be a safe place for creative expression, self-discovery, and a deep sense of community. As Tumblr continues to grow and evolve, and our understanding of our impact on our world becomes clearer, we have a responsibility to consider that impact across different age groups, demographics, cultures, and mindsets. We spent considerable time weighing the pros and cons of expression in the community that includes adult content. In doing so, it became clear that without this content we have the opportunity to create a place where more people feel comfortable expressing themselves.”

“Bottom line: There are no shortage of sites on the internet that feature adult content. We will leave it to them and focus our efforts on creating the most welcoming environment possible for our community.”

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