Tumblr will ban all adult content, it has said.

The decision is a major reversal for a company that partly made its name for the relative availability of explicit content on its site.

The ban will cover just about anything that could be known as explicit, it said. “Adult content primarily includes photos, videos, or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples, and any content—including photos, videos, GIFs and illustrations—that depicts sex acts,” it wrote in its announcement.

Text will still be admitted and so erotica can still be posted on the site. It will also allow non-sexualised images of women’s nipples.

“Examples of exceptions that are still permitted are exposed female-presenting nipples in connection with breastfeeding, birth or after-birth moments, and health-related situations, such as post-mastectomy or gender confirmation surgery,” it wrote. “Written content such as erotica, nudity related to political or newsworthy speech, and nudity found in art, such as sculptures and illustrations, are also stuff that can be freely posted on Tumblr.”

The decision comes soon after the Tumblr app disappeared from the iOS App Store in a move that it later emerged was related to the discovery of child sexual abuse imagery on its blogs. It did not say whether the decision was related to that incident.

Content that has already been posted but would breach the new rule will be altered so that it is viewable only by the person who posted it. Some blogs, rather than posts, already marked themselves as explicit so they would be age-filtered – those sites will stay up, Tumblr said, but the posts on them that break the new rule might still be removed.

The site encouraged anyone it sees breaking the rules after they go into effect on 17 December to report them, by clicking on the paper aeroplane at the bottom of the post. Anyone who has content removed will receive an email alert which will also include tools to appeal against any decision they believe to be unfair.

Ever since it began more than 10 years ago, Tumblr has had a policy of allowing far more explicit imagery and posts than other social networks. In recent years, some of those posts have been hidden behind certain rules – such as a safe mode that meant users had to log in and then opt in to see such content – but it has always been relaxed about people sharing such posts.

Recently, however, it has looked to make its platform safer. Earlier this year, it announced new rules that banned people from sharing hate speech or revenge porn.



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