Why Is Tumblr Banning Adult Content? Censorship Causes Alternative Platforms to Rise

On Monday, Tumblr announced plans to remove all adult content from the site on Dec. 17 . Users have been quick to respond to what they feel will be the destruction of the platform they hold so dear.

Tumblr has been a safe haven for those looking for a space to share their fan fiction or art that normally wouldn't have a place online. You could depict a relationship between two characters, like Dean and Cas from Supernatural, and "ship" them together in a faux-imagined relationship. The CW would never allow that to exist in canon, but these fan-imagined romances once found a welcoming home into the wild world of Tumblr.

Tumblr Censorship

Tumblr started in 2007 as one of the earliest successful "microblogging" sites on the web. Users could post their own words and images to the platform, which allowed those ideas to spread further than ever before. Users of rival forums like LiveJournal or Yahoo message boards could face punishment or bans for posting NSFW content, but Tumblr allowed its users to express their freedom. The site continued to grow, pulling in tens of thousands of users who wanted a place to share their world with other like-minded folks.

In 2013, Tumblr was purchased by Yahoo for $1.1 billion. Users worried that the corporate attitude of the search-engine giant would lead to stricter rules and censorship for the site. They weren't wrong: NSFW blogs were secretly tagged by Tumblr devs and started to disappear from Tumblr searches shortly after the acquisition, only discoverable by those actively looking for that content. As the years went on, Tumblr introduced its own tagging system that allowed users to flag their own blogs as NSFW, but it also continued to limit their reach.

In November 2018, the Tumblr app was mysteriously deleted from the Apple App store. Tumblr and Apple kept silent about the change for days, until adding an update on the official Tumblr Help page saying that it was removed for "child sexual abuse material," or child pornography.

Tumblr's most recent change is the most drastic and is intended to limit the amount of NSFW content on the site. Since yesterday's announcement, users have reported even innocuous content, like images of Steven Universe's face and manga art, have been flagged by the sites automods. Looking ahead, many users worry that this could be the beginning of the end for Tumblr.

THIS got flagged of all things? guess tumblr doesnt like funny drawings pic.twitter.com/9qEWJ11Gpg

— ianjq (@ianjq) December 4, 2018

Me: rb nsfw content
Tumblr dot com: pic.twitter.com/LQDxPmMOZy

— Red (@xionee) December 4, 2018

Why doesn't Tumblr just create a companion-site for NSFW content?
Call it "Cumblr". 🤔

— Robbie Daymond (@robbiedaymond) December 3, 2018

Tumblr Alternatives


Many former Tumblr users are looking for a new site to host their content and discussions. One of the most popular candidates is Pillowfort.io, a brand new live-blogging platform that's crept out of the ashes of Tumblr. The site is still very much in its beta stage and still carving out a niche, but users do seem overwhelmingly supportive of the site. Pillowfort.io was down for a few days to prepare for the influx of new users, but is now back up (though it is crashing fairly regularly).


"Welcome second wave of artists!" Newgrounds creator Tom Fulp exclaimed in a blog post. The internet's original content portal has received a massive influx of new users after yesterday's Tumblr news. The site allows users to post NSFW images and animated video, as long as they aren't overwhelmingly vulgar or distasteful. It's a solid alternative to Tumblr, one that lets you host your work without fear of it being removed or you getting banned. An artist needs to post four different pieces before they can be "scouted" by another user, allowing them to showcase their work on the Art Portal. Newgrounds was the original home of some of the internet's greatest content creators, like Egoraptor and Oney, so it's great to see a new generation pick it back up.