Tumblr Apps Ban #Gay, #Lesbian, And #Bisexual Searches

Tumblr banned terms

In the latest misguided effort by a tech company to keep always-connected-to-everything-on-the-internet-mobile-supercomputers-with-built-in-camcorders from becoming "porn machines", Tumblr has banned the search terms #gay, #lesbian, and #bisexual from their mobile app. To be fair to Tumblr and their parent company Yahoo!, this is most likely done to meet the overly-strict requirements set in place by app stores, with Apple's being the most notoriously heavy-handed. But on the other hand, the Tumblr app has been live for a while and this ban is brand new, suggesting that Tumblr's new owners are seemingly unable to recognize that not everything related to sex and sexuality is porn or "adult content." Slate has the report.


  1. Distingue Traces says

    This isn’t even going to prevent people from searching for porn – it’s just going to mean they get lots of unwanted results because they couldn’t filter for men-only or women-only.

  2. Stuart says

    This news is a week or so old, and Tumblr already responded to it a few days ago:


    Money quote: “The reason you see innocent tags like #gay being blocked on certain platforms is that they are still frequently returning adult content which our entire app was close to being banned for.”

    Of course it’s an open question how much one should trust statements like these coming from corporate entities, but the idea that their app was in danger of being banned is entirely plausible. The tags aren’t banned from the non-mobile versions of tumblr, or even from the website when accessed via mobile, which is consistent with Tumblr’s version of the story.

    Seems to me like complaints should be directed at Apple (and possibly google) rather than at Tumblr.

  3. anon says

    I’m sure the porn entries will up the ante by using euphemisms. Then Yahoo will retaliate by banning all porn on the site. Then traffic will drop to nil. End of story.

  4. theo says

    Thank you, Stuart. It’s pretty irresponsible of Towleroad to post this without a reference to the statement Tumblr released four days ago.

  5. says

    Yeah, I think Netflix needs to be ashamed here for the same thing. No gay section on the mobile or game related apps.

  6. One Hand Typist says

    had no problem with ‘bareback black c*ck’ and raw asian c*m on Saturday.

  7. Joseph Singer says

    Yahoo has a checkered history of acquiring properties and turning them into ßheis and then abandoning them.

  8. says

    Tumblr is passing the buck. Apple allows apps that link through to adult content, even though they have the ridiculous “Adult” warnings for items such as dictionaries and web browsers. Basically, if an app can access the Internet, where all sorts of “widely consumed yet considered dirty” stuff lives, it’s gets hampered by a warning.

    This is a post-Yahoo change, along with blocking tags within Tumblr to link to other posts with that tag if it contains “adult” content. They are burying their mature content, and hiding handles.

  9. says

    I stand corrected. The backlash prompted a reversal:

    a href=”http://www.zdnet.com/after-backlash-yahoos-tumblr-quietly-restores-adult-nsfw-blogs-7000018342/”>http://www.zdnet.com/after-backlash-yahoos-tumblr-quietly-restores-adult-nsfw-blogs-7000018342/

  10. DB says

    Tumblr has a huge problem with adult content (especially on the PC – I don’t know about mobile apps) and they definitely need to work to eliminate pornographic content (especially the many photos of naked folks who are posted to Tumblr without their permission). However, it is absolutely UNACCEPTABLE to target gay content. The major false stereotype of homophobes is that gay people are somehow hypersexualized or obsessed with sex. Someone who is looking for gay family content, gay community information, gay civil rights information, etc. should not have their ability to search limited because of a clumsy inability of Tumblr to eliminate adult sexual content.

  11. JMC says

    @DB: Tumblr has a “problem” with adult content? They need to work to eliminate porn?? Ummm, no. Porn and other adult content is a massive source of Tumblr’s traffic and most blogs that aren’t dedicated to a squeaky clean fandom are at least sprinkled with adult content. Most users are far more concerned about their ability to search porn tags being taken away than the glitchy app everybody hates disabling a few tags to keep from getting removed from the App Store. Let’s hope Yahoo isn’t as clueless as you and doesn’t kill yet another awesome property.

  12. NE1 says

    So basically, the billionaires at yahoo know less about tumblr than even I do.. seriously pay one employee to search the site.

  13. Keith says

    This sort of stupidity is why large businesses decline.

    As soon as small new internet operations are bought up the new owners ruin the features which made it popular. Rigid and inflexible blanket policies will drive customers away. Dumbass corporate executives have no imagination.

  14. Julien Pierre says

    This ban is why I uninstalled the Tumblr Android app on the same day I installed it.

  15. Josh says

    Did you test the app out Julien? My Tumblr Android app are showing #gay posts just fine.

  16. JJS says

    This is not new. I have a food and hometown related tumblr harborsidekitchen and always tag my posts #lgbtq. When I first started it on Tumblr I would use #gay. It works but you could not search that tag. I assumed it was for anti-bullying purposes and moved on. And personally I think the all inclusive #lgbtq is more appropriate as a general term for user content. Tumblr is loaded with porn. I really don’t think folks looking for porn will be limited in the least without searching for #gay. But not gro nothing… I’d hate to see my carrot cake and cream cheese icing jumbled in with my porn stream anyways.

  17. JMC says

    Generally speaking, any tag that’s used as much as “gay” is going to be overloaded with crap and pointless to search/track anyways.

  18. Hyde says

    They said they wouldn’t change anything and a month later they did. They have ruined it just like Google ruined YouTube.

  19. Daddy's Home says

    Hope that Andy gets back soon and fires intern Christian Walters for writing inaccurate (borderline false) and needlessly inflammatory headlines/articles such as this one and the one about Nate Silver.

  20. Trey says

    Tumblr is only good for porn. They will lose a lot of traffic if they ever ban adult material.