MENUMENU

NSFW artists speak out as their accounts are suddenly ‘purged’ on Tumblr

Best Picko (CC-BY)

They could be a casualty in Tumblr’s reported child porn crackdown.

Tumblr is one of the world’s most popular blogging platforms, with over 23 million monthly app users in the U.S. alone, according to Statista. But after the iOS App Store delisted its mobile app this month, Tumblr seems to be facing a slew of problems.

Tumblr revealed on Nov. 16 that the site was “working to resolve an issue with the iOS app” as users noticed it was no longer in the iOS App Store. Then on Monday night, Tumblr gave another update noting that “child sexual abuse material” was posted on the site and that Tumblr “immediately removed this content” after it was found in a routine audit. The illegal content seemingly made its way onto the platform because it was not part of an industry database that detects and removes child pornography before it reaches the site.

“Content safeguards are a challenging aspect of operating scaled platforms,” Tumblr wrote in its explanation post. “We’re continuously assessing further steps we can take to improve and there is no higher priority for our team.”

The content’s removal appears connected to a post made by Twitter user ArcturusXXXIII, who wrote an open letter claiming “numerous Tumblr pages” with child pornography continue to plague the site, posting illegal videos with “thousands” and “tens of thousands” of notes—or likes, reblogs, and comments—underneath them. Tumblr has since confirmed with ArcturusXXXIIII that the offending blog “has been removed.” However, even after the content’s reported removal, Tumblr’s iOS app remains absent from the App Store.

The Daily Dot reached out to both Apple and Tumblr for comment but did not receive a response.

Meanwhile, another, perhaps related, problem is affecting its userbase. Tumblr users with both NSFW and SFW accounts are reportedly having their accounts purged from the site. Erotic artist jaspurrlock, or Jas, claims her Tumblr blogs were removed from the site after her account of five years was terminated. Jas later posted a response from the Tumblr Trust & Safety team claiming the blogs feature “inappropriate content involving or depicting minors,” leading to a “final” termination banning her from the site.

However, Tumblr’s assessment isn’t entirely accurate. In an interview with the Daily Dot, Jas explained that her adult content features “aged up” characters from Voltron: Legendary Defender and My Hero Academia, meaning all of her erotic artwork stars characters that are purposefully depicted as over 18, even if they are teenagers in the shows. None of her artwork depicts characters under 18 having sex, yet her blogs were still impacted by the purge.

“It was never an issue [from] Tumblr, they never made a warning for content such as mine, never said anything was wrong with posting it, and thus of course, many people felt comfortable on Tumblr,” Jas told the Daily Dot.

Instead, Jas believes the iOS App Store’s decision to remove the Tumblr app led to a chain of events that concluded in her account’s removal. All of her blogs were taken down in the termination, including a SFW blog with 24,000 followers and a NSFW blog with 50,000. Jas suspects losing her blogs will impact her ability to earn patrons and commissions too.

“Tumblr provided that base for me to always be able to offer commissions had I wanted to,” Jas said. “Losing that many followers, which I accumulated across four to five years on my SFW blog and two years on my NSFW blog, and hundreds of drawings—I can’t bear thinking about how much work it’ll take again.”

Even when she reached out to Tumblr, support told her that if she created new accounts, they would also be terminated.

Not every users’ accounts were permanently removed, however. Another Tumblr artist, Gerph, initially lost two NSFW blogs and a SFW page with a combined total of over 100,000 followers. Gerph’s account later reemerged. An additional post circulating around Tumblr depicts the Tumblr Trust & Safety team claiming a blog was deleted due to a “glitch in our system,” which convinced certain Tumblr users that their blogs may be restored if they reach out to Tumblr.

Users have since encouraged each other to reach out to Tumblr support if their blogs were deactivated and to back up their posts in the meantime.

Some Tumblr users have since turned to Twitter as they await a response from Tumblr’s support center. Meanwhile, others are tweeting their fears from the #tumblrpurge hashtag.

READ MORE

It remains unclear for now if Tumblr is gradually cracking down on NSFW content as a whole or simply trying to limit artwork that may depict characters under 18. However, this isn’t the first time Tumblr has restricted some of its adult content. The site’s Safe Mode prevents non-registered users from accessing blogs tagged as NSFW by default, forcing anonymous online browsers to create a Tumblr account to look at adult material. With Tumblr’s recent move, some artists wonder where to go next as their work is being taken down.

“Not to forget, many other artists don’t necessarily have all their artwork saved elsewhere, and just lost a whole archive of their work,” Jas explained to the Daily Dot. “They didn’t even get a warning to save their work.”

Ana Valens

Ana Valens

Ana Valens is an LGBTQ reporter and essayist for the Daily Dot. Her work has previously appeared in Bitch, the Establishment, Vice's Waypoint, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.