Tumblr, a website that used to be — and occasionally still is — quite good, has slowly died a very public death at the hands of its owner, Verizon. Or rather, its former owner. Verizon is selling Tumblr to Automattic, the owner of WordPress — a website-publishing tool — for a price The Wall Street Journal calls “nominal.” For comparison, Yahoo (which was acquired by Verizon in 2017) paid $1.1 billion for Tumblr back in 2013.
The news is unsurprising. Verizon has been seeking a buyer for Tumblr for months, according to reports. At one point, PornHub said it was interested in buying the site. Which sounds silly but honestly might not have been a totally terrible match, given that the final nail in the Tumblr coffin was the ban of all adult content on the platform in December of 2018. Which, if you’re at all familiar with Tumblr, you know was a big part of the draw. It’s okay if you don’t want to admit it. We all know. Specifically, the ban declared that the site would no longer allow “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.” (You’ll note the “human” specification.)
Earlier in December, Tumblr used AI to flag adult content for deletion. It was a highly effective system that informed users their posts of things like bowls of fruit and pictures of a particularly well-muscled Garfield the cat were NSFW. In November 2018, Tumblr was temporarily banned from the App Store due to child porn on the platform. The outright ban ultimately seemed like Tumblr deciding it was easier to eliminate all NSFW content, rather than built out the systems to flag, delete, and report illegal content, like child porn. Automattic’s CEO Matt Mullenweg told the Journal he intends to uphold the ban.
But, Automattic … this could be your moment. Bring back the porny stuff. Bring back the nipples — “female-presenting” or otherwise — and the sexy GIFs. The erotic fan art. The content for horny teens and horny adults alike. (Tumblr traffic has been down ever since the site went G-rated.) Engineer better filters and reporting systems to create a Tumblr without child porn, obviously. Bring back the smutty Tumblr we all knew and loved.