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Tumblr is at war with Apple again over ‘mature’ content on its app – TechCrunch

Hide your “Tony the Tiger” / “Eugene Levy” fan fiction – these phrases, along with hundreds more, are now banned from the Tumblr iOS app.

Now any personal blog that flags itself as “mature” is not accessible on the iOS app – users will see a pop-up explaining that the content has been hidden due to “potentially suggestive or explicit content” . Tumblr also said that some posts will be hidden from search and on user dashboards – which shows recommended posts, as well as content from the users they follow.

“In order for us to stay in the Apple App Store and for our iOS Tumblr app to be available, we needed to make changes that would help us be more compliant with their policies regarding sensitive content,” Tumblr wrote in a blog post.

Image credits: Tumblr

Tumblr users have developed a unofficial crowdsourcing list beacons that the Tumblr app has banned on iOS in order to comply with these policies. Some of the banned tags make sense for a platform trying to clean itself out of sensitive content – “porn,” “drugs” and “sex” are banned, for example. Others are incomprehensible (or disturbing if you think about it too long), like the aforementioned “Tony the Tiger” and “Eugene Levy”. Even tags with the numbers 69 and 420 are prohibited.

Many Tumblr users flock to the site to talk anonymously about their experiences, but some of these tag bans effectively censor those conversations. Several tags linked to stimulate, a common coping practice for people with autism, are prohibited, along with tags like “depression”, “PTSD” and “bipolar”.

“We understand that these adjustments will impact how users will be able to access potentially sensitive content while using our iOS app, and that can be frustrating,” a Tumblr spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We are working on more thoughtful solutions that will be rolled out in the near future and will keep the community informed as this work continues. “

A former Tumblr iOS engineer who blogs the site as sreegs Explain which could cause this problem and its ineffective, band-aid-like solutions.

“If a critic [at Apple] run your app and find porn, your app is rejected and you are told to fix the problem ”they wrote in a blog post. The engineer said this would happen about “once every five updates”, but once the offending message – provided to Tumblr via a screenshot – was removed, the app would be ready to go. .

“Every once in a while Tumblr would get a very persistent review. It would take a handful of porn scrubs and new submissions before they finally give the green light for an update, ”sreegs wrote. The engineer believes this is similar to what’s currently happening on Tumblr’s iOS app.

Tumblr has faced a years-long struggle with approval on the iOS App Store. In 2018, Tumblr’s iOS app was pulled from the App Store after child sexual abuse material (CSAM) found its way through the app’s filtering technology. A month later, the platform responded by banning all pornographic and other sexually explicit content, resulting in an almost immediate drop in monthly traffic of 29%. Since then, the platform’s web traffic has remained relatively stagnant.

Image credits: SimilarWeb

Of course, it’s Sisyphus’s job to cleanse a user-generated content platform from all adult content. But Apple’s standards for Tumblr seem particularly strict.

“A little part of me also wants to be cynical and say that since Instagram and Twitter are so big, they can get away with more than Tumblr,” the former iOS engineer of Tumblr theorized. “Combine that with Tumblr’s story of openly allowing porn until the end of 2018. I can’t prove it, of course, but if Tumblr has a reputation at Apple, it can’t be a good one. “

In the meantime, Tumblr content is prohibited tag by tag, from # rule 34 to #long post.

Tumblr wrote on his Changes blog yesterday he is reviewing the list of tags that are not accessible in the iOS app, and he expects that review process to resume in January.

“We are working on a web toggle that would allow users to allow sensitive content in the iOS app,” he added.

Tumblr users often refer to the platform as the desert of the Internet. The app itself captioned its iOS app as “hell site (loving)“in the App Store. So why do people keep using it?

“WWe’re high enough that people assume the site is dead, so stuff like this has some really simple workarounds, ”a dedicated Tumblrite told TechCrunch. It’s not hard to find these workarounds if you search the site for “tag ban”, but regular users know that the search function is very buggy anyway. “I bet the broken search function is actually getting here. Crap just doesn’t show up half the time, which means we can’t find it, and neither does Apple.

But what Tumblr lacks in iOS apps and functional search functions, it makes up for with its algorithm … or lack thereof. As platforms like TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram face the Senate to talk about the mysterious ways they serve content, Tumblr makes it work (define “work”) the old fashioned way. It displays the content of the users you follow in reverse chronological order.

“I I honestly believe that being a dumpster fire has fully worked in Tumblr’s favor at this point, ”said the avid Tumblr user. “WWe don’t have an algorithm, so we can always organize our experience exactly as we want.