In the slow battle between humankind's love of porn and Tumblr's need to somehow make money, we find ourselves in a sort of ceasefire: boobs can stay, but they won't be easy to find. Caught in the armistice are plenty of inoffensive things. Why can't I search for #gay on my phone, but it's easy to find naked teens?
Some search terms are blocked (returning no results) in some of our mobile apps. Unfortunately, different app environments have different requirements that we do our best to adhere to. The reason you see innocent tags like #gay being blocked on certain platforms is that they are still frequently returning adult content which our entire app was close to being banned for. The solution is more intelligent filtering which our team is working diligently on.
This is true: searching for "gay" or "lesbian" returns porn along with other, visually innocuous stuff about just being gay. But imagine yourself, for a moment, in this position: you're black, or Jewish, or Italian, or something, and you want to look at things you can relate to on Tumblr. This mere act of searching is barred because of the chance that some porn might be included in the sweep, a boot in the fishnet. The way you are is considered objectionable, a blanket offense.
Meanwhile, with this very same Tumblr app, you can easily search for a slur against you:
To reiterate: gay, no. Thinspo, yes:
You can cruise this "hot teen" Tumblr on your iPhone—no problem:
There are whole Tumblr sites dedicated to underage girls, fully iPhone compatible:
There are plenty of young girls to cart around on your smartphone:
But remember—this isn't allowed:
What's left unsaid here is "Apple," whose notoriously prudish decency policies have been a sticking point for years. It shouldn't be surprising that Apple would threaten to toss out Tumblr's iOS app over gay erotica—they've done it before!
But let's imagine something for a moment.
Imagine if, instead of hastily scrambling to meet Apple's senile puritan mores with censorship policies that don't make sense, Tumblr had said no. Imagine if Tumblr had said Sorry, but blocking an entire sexual orientation is a little too much for us. Imagine of Tumblr had bluffed and said, Go ahead, block our app. Make more kids start using Android. Imagine if Tumblr had passed the buck to Apple—if the blame truly lies there—and let the millions of gay, straight, and whatever people who comprise its hallowed community write petitions. Imagine if Tumblr could pin its porn war on Apple, if it could've made this someone else's problem. Imagine if Tumblr, instead of obfuscating its porn debacle with talks of "app environments" and "filters," just told the truth—Hi everyone, we're still figuring out how to reconcile porn and advertising, but in the meantime, we don't think it's right to block an entire sexual identity.
Imagine if Tumblr, for all its talk of being The Cool Website worth over a billion dollars to Yahoo! actually did the cool thing here. It's sort of hard to imagine!