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Tumblr adds new filters and suggests more flexible moderation rules

Tumblr is adding a new filtering feature called “community tags.” Contrary to speculation by some users, Tumblr’s parent company Automattic says its broader rules haven’t changed so far, but the feature could lay the groundwork for a more liberal moderation policy.

community Labels, announced yesterday, make the site’s moderation tools more granular. Tumblr is asking users to label posts that depict or reference three categories of content: drug and alcohol addiction, violence “similar to what you might see in an age-restricted movie,” and “sexual themes,” including “writing or images erotic”. Adding any of them will add an “adult” tag to the post. You can also add a “mature” tag for anything you think is sensitive but doesn’t fit into these categories.

Tumblr’s new policies will be “more in line” with WordPress.com

Once tagged, adult posts will be blurred or completely hidden from the viewer’s dashboard, depending on their own content settings. Those settings also allow you to disable both options and view posts normally, unless your birthday indicates that you’re under 18, in which case all adult posts are hidden and the setting blocked. The filtering is opt-out, so if you want to see adult content, you’ll need to manually change your settings.

Not quite a seismic shift yet, but in an update todayAutomattic CEO Matt Mullenweg said the community tags were a “first step” in a larger Tumblr project. “I am so excited that a fuller range of artists will be able to properly label and protect their art and work,” Mullenweg wrote on Tumblr. “We haven’t updated the official content policies yet, but we hope to align them with our policies on WordPress.com soon.” The full statement (with emphasis on the original) can be found below:

Community tags are our first step in making sure everything is properly tagged on Tumblr so people aren’t exposed to content they don’t want to see or aren’t legally allowed to see. The response has been excellent so far, and I am very excited that a fuller range of artists will be able to properly label and protect their art and work.. App store policies, particularly Apple’s, still mean we have to take extra steps to make sure anything tagged isn’t available to younger users and you have to explicitly opt-in to make sure it shows up. collect birthdays now). We haven’t updated the official content policies yet, but we hope they’ll be more in line with our policies on WordPress.com soon.

Tumblr has struggled with moderation since a controversial 2018 adult content ban, which sent shockwaves through the site’s user base. (Prohibited “mature content” is defined as more sexually explicit than “mature content,” allowing erotic and sexually suggestive material to be written.) Y several Tumblr users viewed the new community labels as a sign that Tumblr might reverse its decision.

The real implications are still murky. Mullenweg did not specify exactly how Tumblr could mirror WordPress.com, which allows “adult” content while still prohibiting “Visual representations of sexually explicit acts”. For now, the announcement post says that Tumblr’s new feature “doesn’t change our content policies,” indicating that things like “spam, hate content, and porn bots” are still prohibited. When you are contacted for feedback, you are automatically forwarded the edge to the Mullenweg declaration.

Tumblr still “can’t be a place for porn”

But Mullenweg said the edge in March I wanted to slightly open the rules of the site. While he said that “Tumblr can’t be a place for porn” and criticized porn bots, he also said that artists should have more freedom on the site. “If you look at our other products like WordPress.com, we have policies that allow much more than what is currently allowed on Tumblr,” Mullenweg said. “That’s what we’re going to try to normalize because those policies have evolved, iterated and worked very well to allow a statue of David or ‘The Birth of Venus.’ Right now, that could be removed, or on the old Tumblr, it could have been removed. That’s obviously art.”

Tumblr has made a variety of attempts to lure Apple by filtering out sensitive posts, something that is required for the app to stay on iOS. In late 2021, Tumblr blocked anything tagged with a long and weird list of words, including “girl” and “selfie,” on iOS. Shortly after, it added a “sensitive content” toggle that allow people to opt in to see those posts.

But Mullenweg said more permissive moderation could be compatible with Apple’s guidelines, particularly better tagging and filtering, and that appears to be exactly what Tumblr is trying to add this week.

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