The Tumblr-pocalypse

Effective December 17, 2018, Tumblr banned all adult content from its site. Since then, based on a traffic analysis from Similar Web, site traffic to Tumblr has declined by about 15 percent.

Similar Web - Tumblr Traffic Analysis, February 2019
Similar Web – Tumblr Traffic Analysis, February 2019

A Google Trends look at interest in Tumblr shows a marked decline in year-to-year searches on Google for the phrase “tumblr.”

Google Trends - Tumblr
Google Trends – Tumblr

I would be very surprised if the drop in total visits doesn’t continue to crater (I know I deleted my account in December and only incidentally visit the site now).

I never thought I’d say this about the site, but I actually miss Tumblr, or at least the idea that Tumblr briefly was the standard bearer for that people did not need to segregate their erotic selves from the other parts of their lives.

When I am using Twitter, for example, I am engaging with multiple communities that impact on different parts of who I am and what I am interested in, from politics, philosophy and economics to action figures and professional wrestling. From the cerebral to the ephemeral in one feed.

Tumblr added adult content into that mix (for those who chose it) allowing people to incorporate their particular erotic selves with their other identities.

This is why the numerous “where to find porn after Tumblr shuts down adult content” articles completely missed the point. What users liked about Tumblr was that it didn’t force them to go out to other sites, but allowed users to integrate all of their interests, including sexual expressions.

As Violet Blue put it in her December 2018 piece on Tumblr’s decision,

One thing is true: people loved the open internet when it was a) not under corporate stewardship hearkening back to 1950s values, and b) you could find people doing all kinds of sex in its different corners. Erasing millions of sex blogs and repressing sexual speech like Goebbels is the sign of a sick ecosystem, the opposite of a future-facing business plan and ignorant of millions of people who disagree wholeheartedly.

Tumblr says they’re erasing a million-plus blogs and decimating communities to create a “better, more positive” experience; Facebook, as usual, claims to be “encouraging expression and creating a safe environment.”

I don’t think any company that actively erases positive sexual expression is going to wake up to the fact that what they’re doing is regressive at best and harmful at worst. When given the opportunity to revert these policies, like if FOSTA was dumped, it’s clear none of them would. After all, FOSTA with all it’s ignoring of women and conflating of sex work with rape, was a bipartisan bill — and its most pivotal supporter was Facebook.

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