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Wil Wheaton tests out Tumblr’s new sex ban: ‘It’s stupid, but at least it’s consistent’
Tumblr is coming under fire after its recent announcement that flagging and removing all pornographic and sexual content from its site. A particularly vocal opponent of the new policy is Wil Wheaton, who tested out the site’s new censors and found interesting results.
Wheaton, an actor and writer known for Star Trek: The Next Generation and his childhood role in Stand By Me, posted screenshots of his Tumblr searches. According to the microblogging site, Tumblr uses an algorithm to scan for nudity and porn. The crackdown on content comes as Tumblr was acquired by Oath Inc., a subsidiary of Verizon Communications.
Wheaton started by reblogging images that contained at least partial nudity of women. Some images had been shared by artists who claimed that their art was no longer acceptable on Tumblr. “Tumblr is meant to be an artistic platform. Are you also going to ban classical nude paintings and sculptures?” Wheaton wrote.
Wheaton also provided screenshots of his image searches that included the terms “beautiful men kissing” and “beautiful couples kissing.” The second search only turned up heterosexual couples, but both posts were flagged. “It’s stupid, but at least it’s consistent, I guess?”
In a lengthy post, Wheaton dismissed Tumblr’s sex ban, claiming that the new policy disproportionately affects marginalized communities. He also called for Tumblr to address the several complainants and resolve the issue.
“According to marginalized and vulnerable people, this change in policy will directly hurt them, and that’s indefensible,” Wheaton wrote. “You have worked so hard to create and maintain a safe space for each other, and I’m embarrassed, appalled, and furious that people who look like me are making your lives—hell, your very existence—so hard.”
Alexis Tatum studies journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. She's an editorial intern with the Daily Dot. Her work has appeared in Orange magazine and the Daily Texan.