The Tumblr Tumble – How a Once-Popular Platform Lost Its Way

Tumblr, a microblogging platform, has maintained its popularity since its introduction in 2007. It is one of the most used blogging ecosystems in the world, with well over 574.7 million blogs, 135 million monthly active users, and well over 9 million daily entries. Even while Tumblr is still quite popular, it has a very dark history when it comes to adult entertainment, pornography, and nudity. Before a controversial terms and conditions update in 2018, Tumblr was a shelter for adult material, especially virtual pornography and LGBTQ content

Tumblr banned adult material on December 17, 2018. The excessive amounts of hate speech, obscenity, and inappropriate content on the network were the cause of this. Following the discovery of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) on the platform in November 2018, Tumblr was prompted to implement this policy when the Apple App Store removed its mobile app. Consequently, there was a moral panic in politics and society, and Tumblr tightened its policies on adult material. The new Tumblr rule was marketed as an aggressive countermeasure against illegal and non-consensual image-based sexual abuse content, such as CSAM.

Tumblr’s Ban on Adult Content

At the time, there was a wide range of opinions among Tumblr users over the restriction; many claimed that it infringed upon the free speech rights of users who uploaded consenting, lawful adult content to the platform.

In response, Tumblr put in place a screening algorithm to find and eliminate content that was against the terms of service of the website. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an organization that actively advocates for the protection of appropriate sexual expression online, stated that Tumblr’s content screening policy and the content restriction were not practical solutions.

Tumblr’s filter was unable to determine what the revised terms and conditions qualified as adult material, according to EFF’s analysis of the adult content ban. A tread tire, a pair of jeans, a boot-scrubbing patent design, a flamingo-inspired pool floatie, and other random posts found among the tens of millions of posts on the site at the time appeared to be picked up by the content filters. Another case study addressed by EFF is the case of Sarah Burstein, a law professor at Boston’s Suffolk University Law School, who blogs about intellectual property and design law for patents and copyrights for tangible objects like the boot scrubber.

Not long after the limitation was put in place, Burstein began to get notices that some of the entries on her design law Tumblr blog had been identified as potentially sexual. Additional examples, as well as a review of social media at the time, demonstrated that the filter algorithm was not living up to expectations and that it urgently needed to be revised and improved. However, the ban on adult content was just one incident in Tumblr’s and its blogging community’s incredibly diverse business history.

Tumblr is owned by Automattic at the moment., the leading global supplier of hosted WordPress websites, is owned by Automattic. The company provides a range of web marketing tools and digital content, including the e-commerce network WooCommerce, the workflow management software Happy Tools, and the podcast database Pocket Casts.

Tumblr’s Management and Ownership Transition 

Paradoxically, Automattic only spent $3 million in 2019 to purchase Tumblr. That is a big decline from the $1.1 billion that computer giant Yahoo paid. In the same year, Yahoo reported a revenue loss of more than $4.4 billion to investors in the fourth quarter. After a net loss, Yahoo reduced the value of Tumblr by $230 million at the time. Tumblr was left behind after Yahoo was bought in 2017 by Verizon and Apollo Global Management, an investing firm located in New York.

When Automattic paid the ridiculous sum of $3 million to acquire the land, they made a pledge not to destroy it. Remarkably, Tumblr’s current owners appear to have done significantly more than either Yahoo or Verizon in the past. As previously said, the issue with the ban on pornographic material is that new terms, services, and rules are required to counteract abusive content on Tumblr, such as CSAM. However, it’s vital to understand the history and surroundings of this organization.

Automattic is the owner of, which allows for some restricted instances of nudity and sexual expression under its terms and conditions. allows adult material, which consists of text, images, and videos that contain mature subject matter, nudity, and explicit language. However, their system has to classify websites containing such information as adult.

Analyzing the Laws Regarding Mature Content

It’s also against’s mature content policy to post anything that was really produced by an adult entertainment firm. Tumblr’s regulations are somewhat similar. According to Gustavo Turner, the news editor at XBIZ, who reported on the site in November 2022, it now allows some adult content. This is similar to’s limit management system used by Automattic. Turner brought attention to the revised community guidelines on Tumblr, which allow for “a broader range of expression, creativity, and art,” defining “the naked human form” in artistic interpretations among other things.

Posting content from websites like or pornographic studios is prohibited on Tumblr. It’s important to remember that Automattic maintains a strong institutional stance against presenting lawfully produced pornography on their own proprietary internet platforms, even in light of this more recent policy change.

In a September 2022 blog post, Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg argued that credit card companies are anti-porn and that the current political and social backlash against the porn industry in countries such as the United States makes the internet a challenging place for the adult industry to operate. Being “personally extremely libertarian,” Mullenweg said he hoped “that a dedicated service or company is started that will replace what people used to get from porn on Tumblr.” “I don’t know about it, but it might already exist,” Mullenweg continued. “Under the current regimes, they’ll face an uphill battle; if you think that’s a bad thing, please try to change the regimes.”

Note that this is, not obtainable Pornographic content is allowed on, which is run by a non-profit organization. Open source software or an adult-hosted WordPress content management system power many of the most well-known adult pornographic websites that are now available online. We go further into WordPress in earlier blog entries on this website.

See more of our Adult B2B Marketing blog here.

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