Tumblr is at War with Apple over ‘Mature’ Content on its App Again

Tumblr is at War with Apple over ‘Mature’ Content on its App Again

Tumblr’s iOS app now prohibits the use of words like “Tony the Tiger” and “Eugene Levy,” as well as hundreds of others. Users will get a pop-up saying that the material has been disabled due to “possibly suggestive or explicit content” if they visit a personal blog that has been marked as “adult.” Tumblr also announced that some postings would bury in the search function and on user dashboards, which display suggested posts as well as material from individuals they follow.

“In order to remain in Apple’s App Store and maintain our Tumblr iOS app available,” Tumblr stated in a blog post, “we needed to make adjustments that would help us be more compliant with their regulations concerning sensitive information.” In order to comply with these regulations, Tumblr users created an unofficial crowdsourced list of tags that the Tumblr app has forbidden on iOS. Some of the forbidden categories make sense for a platform attempting to rid itself of sensitive information — for example, “porn,” “drugs,” and “sex” all prohibited. Others, like “Tony the Tiger” and “Eugene Levy,” are inexplicable (or unsettling if you think about them for too long). Tags containing the digits 69 and 420 also prohibited.

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Tumblr is at War with Apple over ‘Mature’ Content on its App Again

Many Tumblr users come to the site anonymously to discuss their lives, but some of these tag prohibitions effectively suppress such discussions. Tags are including “depression,” “PTSD,” and “bipolar” forbidden. as other tags relating to stimming, a typical coping method for autistic persons. “We recognize that these changes will have an impact on how users may access potentially sensitive information while using our iOS app, and we appreciate that this might be annoying,” a Tumblr representative told TechCrunch. “We’re working on more intelligent solutions that will be released soon, and we’ll keep the community informed as that work progresses.”

A former Tumblr iOS programmer is known as sreegs outlined what is causing the issue and how useless, band-aid-like fixes can help. “If an Apple reviewer detects porn in your software, it will be denied, and you will be advised to fix the problem,” they stated in a blog post. The programmer estimated that this happen “once every five upgrades,” but that the app would be OK after the offending post —, which was sent to Tumblr via screenshot — was deleted.

“Every now and again, Tumblr would receive a really persistent reviewer. “It’d take a few porn scrubs and re-submissions before they’d eventually approve an update,” wrote sreegs. This, according to the developer, is comparable to what is now happening on Tumblr’s iOS app. Tumblr has been fighting for clearance on the iOS App Store for years. After child sexual abuse material (CSAM) made its way past the app’s screening system, Tumblr’s iOS app was removed from the App Store in 2018. After a month, the platform responded by prohibiting all porn and other sexually explicit material, which resulted in a near-immediate 29 percent monthly visitor decline. The platform’s online traffic has been reasonably stable since then.

Of course, removing any adult content from a user-generated content site is a Sisyphean effort. Apple’s criteria for Tumblr, on the other hand, appear to be very strict. “A part of me wants to be pessimistic and argue that because Instagram and Twitter are so huge, they can get away with more than Tumblr,” the former Tumblr iOS programmer said. “Combine that with Tumblr’s history of openly enabling pornography till the end of 2018,” says the report. Of course, I can’t verify that, but Tumblr can’t have a positive reputation at Apple if it has one.”