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Nudity and ‘sexual themes’ return to Tumblr (but still no porn)

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Tumblr's Community Guidelines once again allow nudity and sexual themes.

Tumblr has allowed nudity and content with ‘sexual themes’ to return to the microblogging and social media site, partially reversing a ban on sexually explicit content it introduced in 2018.

The site confirmed the changes on November 1, following an announcement in September 2021 that the platform would introduce a function for users to filter out content with sexual themes.

Tumblr now allows nudity, sexual themes and “mature subject matter”, but not “visual depictions of sexually explicit acts” (i.e. porn).

Tumblr staff said in their announcement: “We now welcome a broader range of expression, creativity, and art on Tumblr, including content depicting the human form (yes, that includes the naked human form).”

Tumblr used to be a haven for NSFW content, and has slipped into cultural irrelevance in recent years as the likes of Facebook, Twitter and TikTok rose to dominate the social media sphere. The platform is owned by Automattic, the publisher owner of WordPress.com.

When Tumblr announced the new ‘sexual themes’ filter in 2021, some speculated that the platform was preparing to allow porn back on the site.

Despite nudity and sexual themes being allowed on Tumblr again, as per yesterday’s announcement, Matt Mullenweg, Automattic’s CEO, said that a policy of “Go nuts, show nuts” when it comes to porn doesn’t work on the site in 2022.

Mullenweg said that credit card companies are “anti-porn”, noting that many put up barriers for porn sites and services wanting to use their services. He also described app stores such as Apple’s as anti-porn, and noted the recent toughening of age verification and consent rules with regard to legally publishing porn.

“I do hope that a dedicated service or company is started that will replace what people used to get from porn on Tumblr,” Mullenweg said, not noting that Twitter currently allows porn.

He added: “It may already exist and I don’t know about it. They’ll have an uphill battle under current regimes, and if you think that’s a bad thing please try to change the regimes. Don’t attack companies following legal and business realities as they exist.”

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Jamie F

Jamie F

Jamie is a freelance writer, contributing to outlets such as The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, CNN and Vice.

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