Blog

Tumblr Banned Porn from its Platform One Year Ago—How is the Site Doing Now?

By December 21, 2019No Comments

Tumblr has proven to be more than just a microblogging and social networking site, but a vehicle that connects like-minded communities and shapes a variety of worldwide subcultures—everything from trending memes to minority sexual fetish groups.

For years, Tumblr had a reputation for explicit content being interwoven throughout the platform. In fact, the running joke is that it’s unsafe (or NSFW) to pull up Tumblr in public because you never know what might pop up on your dashboard—whether or not you’re seeking out explicit content.

Related: Study Shows Nearly Half Of Tumblr Users See Porn While On Platform

Porn creators clearly weren’t tucked away in their own private corner of Tumblr, but dominated its mainstream feeds—that is, up until about a year ago.

Impact Arrows

Quick review: Tumblr’s 2018 announcement to ban porn

Tumblr positions itself as “a safe place for creative expression, self-discovery, and a deep sense of community,” although for many, it’s proven to be anything but.

In fact, following the exposure of child pornography on the platform last year, Apple removed Tumblr from its App Store. Just a few weeks later, in December 2018, Tumblr announced a change in policies to ban explicit adult content and nudity, “with some exceptions.”

While there’s speculation that the ban was already in the works prior to the child porn issue, it’s arguable that Apple’s response instigated Tumblr’s change in policy.

Tumblr emphasized a “zero tolerance policy” for child pornography, and added, “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.”

Related: Breaking: Tumblr To Remove Adult-Related And Explicit Content From The Platform

While some argue that Tumblr is a platform for self-expression and isn’t all about adult content, it’s clear that porn made up a significant part of Tumblr’s reputation. In fact, one user compared Tumblr ending porn to “McDonald’s ending hamburgers.”

Love Can't Be Clicked - Charcoal

Tumblr took a significant hit

So how has Tumblr fared over the last year without (as much) XXX content on the site? The proof is in the numbers.

From 2018 to 2019, Tumblr’s average number of unique monthly visitors dropped 21.2%, the average site visit session decreased by almost a full minute, and the average number of pages per visit decreased by over 1.5%.

Additionally, the average volume of traffic to Tumblr’s login page by U.S. visitors decreased 49%, and the average number of daily active users on Tumblr’s Android app dropped by 35%.

In short, fewer people are visiting the platform overall, and a large portion of those who do are spending far less time browsing.

Related: Why Is The World’s Largest Free Porn Site Looking To Buy Porn-Free Tumblr?

This drop in numbers is significant but not altogether surprising, and confirms that pornographic content was clearly a lifeblood of the platform.

In fact, according to a 2017 study conducted by Yahoo back when the entity still owned Tumblr, porn creators were linked to the rest of Tumblr’s network “with a very high number of ties,” and their productions “spread widely across the while social graph.”

Yahoo found that the average user followed 51 blogs—2-3 of which were specifically pornography, and another 2 of which were “bridge” blogs, meaning run by users who were significantly likely to share porn.

Related: Breaking News: Indonesia Blocks Access To Tumblr Over Massive Porn Problem

Tumblr’s yearly data confirms it still hosts plenty of thriving online communities without porn—things like photography, fitness, aliens, Keanu Reeves memes, and #Taylurking (yes, an entire group dedicated to watching Taylor Swift liking fan’s posts when she’s live on the site).

So, Tumblr is still Tumblr. People are still there doing creative—and sometimes strange—things. But the numbers make it clear that many people did have Tumblr just for the porn.

Fighter/Lover Card Front And Back

Porn’s impact on global business and culture

The single decision to ban porn from its platform triggered a drastic decline in Tumblr’s traffic and engagement—and in a relatively short period of time. The Tumblr example exposes how porn drives so much business in our world today, it’s literally measurable. And business is, of course, driven by consumers.

Related: How Is The Porn Industry’s Business Model So Successful?

The controversy, frustration, and downright outrage many users expressed over Tumblr’s decision shows just how interwoven society’s relationships, expression, and sexual desires are with digital platforms (and porn).

Think about it—how much of your personal and professional experiences are tied to Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter? Now consider how many different demographics, cultures, and age groups are in your same shoes on those platforms. So much of our “intimate” connections and self expressions are dictated by these social platforms and the tech companies that fuel them—and yes, that includes the porn industry.

Tumblr’s decision to remove adult content from its site and the reaction that followed reveals so much about the power porn has over business and individual lives—as long as we allow it to.

Don't Buy The Lie - Black

Would people react differently if they understand porn is harmful?

Some porn filmmakers, performers, and consumers justify explicit adult content as an “aesthetic, artistic component” of their page, and many members of online fetish communities lamented that Tumblr’s porn shut down left them “digitally homeless.” But what if each of those people impacted by this global issue truly understood the harms of porn?

If this were the case, they’d likely be celebrating instead of protesting.

Porn may disguise itself as a form of self-expression, but research shows it actually hurts, not helps, individuals and intimate relationships. Porn also has a negative impact on society as a whole and fuels the sexual exploitation of people worldwide.

While we’re not out to ban porn, Tumblr has taken a step in the right direction when it comes to promoting the health and happiness of its users—and you can, too, by choosing to leave porn out of the picture.

Send this to a friend