Tumblr’s Tyrannical Adult Content Algorithms Aren’t Working And It’s Hilarious/Terrible

Yesterday Tumblr announced—to much derision—that they would be banning all adult content. The wide ranging decision seems to be part of a strangely puritanical campaign to eradicate spaces for sex workers and adults exploring their sexuality. As is the way of 2018, the company has decided to entrust this new regime to algorithms, and shocking everyone (ha), the first wave of flagging so-called “adult content” has not gone well. It seems like artists have been highly affected by the first purge, and though a lot of the flags are pretty hilarious, there is an insidious underlying pattern of racism and homophobia in the choices that Tumblr is making. We’ve scoured Twitter to try and understand just what Tumblr considers to be “sensitive content.”

Cute Art

A lot of the first wave of posts that have been flagged are just really nice and pure art.https://twitter.com/kinucakes/status/1069684101886529537https://twitter.com/faith_schaffer/status/1069715988663304192https://twitter.com/FalseKnees/status/1069969202088460290https://twitter.com/joviellety/status/1069681893346566144

Posts Featuring Characters of Color

One of the most insidious trends to notice is that a lot of posts focused on characters who aren’t white are getting flagged. Studies about the inherent racism and sexism of AI due to programming bias have proven this is a big problem in tech, and as we see the amount of flagged posts which focus on young people of color, it’s clear that Tumblr’s algorithms have bigger underlying issues.https://twitter.com/gregpak/status/1069813487407374337https://twitter.com/viria13/status/1069978486352302081https://twitter.com/kreugan/status/1069724973873459200


Apparently Tumblr really hates cats who love lasagna and don’t like Mondays.https://twitter.com/heyshanmurphy/status/1069703550870142977

The Ridiculous

Tumblr has often marketed in the ridiculous and strange, but those days are over if these posts are anything to go by. After all, there’s nothing more adult than… Donkey Kong jokes, Star Trek, and Werther’s Originals.https://twitter.com/radspacepal/status/1069747879567351808https://twitter.com/NickMarino/status/1069740115084242944

Posts by and about Tumblr?

In a peak example of this whole mess, Tumblr’s own post about their own community guidelines got flagged.https://twitter.com/KlumeScribbles/status/1069707365522526214And don’t you dare post about the fact that their stocks dived since the announcement yesterday, or you guessed it… FLAGGED.https://twitter.com/alicegoldfuss/status/1069756731201343488How much further will Tumblr fall into this hole of their own making? Stay tuned to the good ol’ internet to find out.

Images: Tumblr, Twitter

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