back from the dead

As Elon Musk tanks Twitter, Tumblr’s new nudity policy could be a game-changer—but there’s a catch

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With things looking dire for Twitter, will a long-ignored app swoop in to save the day?

Ever since real-life James Bond nemesis Elon Musk took over the social media company less than a week ago, hate speech and conspiracy theories have been on the rise. There’s also the fact that Musk plans to start charging between $5-$20 a month for Verification—and apparently anyone can opt in if they pony up the cash? Yeah, it’s bleak.

As users gradually begin to flock from the app, the question remains: Where to next? Is there any other social media platform that can possibly satisfy our cravings for hot takes and snarky replies and inane memes and revealing photos for (up to) 150 of our “closest friends”? Who will save us??

Perhaps sensing a market thirsty for alternatives, beleaguered microblogging app Tumblr has just announced a big change to its community guidelines—one that’s sure to tempt new and returning users back to its platform: They’re allowing nudity again!

Related: What does Tumblr’s ban on x-rated content mean for recovering adult film addicts like this guy?

In a post shared to its staff blog this week, Tumblr shared it would be “taking the next step” toward a more “open” user experience: “We now welcome a broader range of expression, creativity, and art on Tumblr, including content depicting the human form (yes, that includes the naked human form).”

Nudity? Are you serious? Right in front of my salad? On Tumblr again? What is this, the early 2010s?


Back in the app’s heyday, there were few restrictions on sexual content, and feeds were full of ****ing, ****ing, ****ing, and ***-play—you name it, Tumblr had it. It became an inadvertent NSFW playground, and a perfect safe space for the curious to explore their urges, especially for the LGBTQ community. Ask most queers of a certain age, and chances are they discovered a kink of theirs on Tumblr.

Related: Memers lament as Tumblr’s impending ban on adult content draws nearer

That all changed in late 2018 when, shortly after it was purchased by Verizon Communications, Tumblr announced a ban on adult content. The change led to a drastic drop in traffic, with a reported 30% loss in daily users. Tumblr was never the same.

But this week’s announcement portends a new era for the microblogging site and—again—it couldn’t have come at a better time. So, is that it? Does Tumblr once again have an open-door policy when it comes to nudity and sexual mature content? Well, not exactly; there are some caveats. Let’s take a closer look…

What Tumblr’s policy update says about nudity and sexual content

In the aforementioned staff blog post, Tumblr elaborated on its Community Guidelines update, saying, “So, even if your creations contain nudity, mature subject matter, or sexual themes, you can now share them on Tumblr using the appropriate Community Label so that everyone remains in control of the types of content they see on their dash.”

OK, fair enough! We definitely get that Tumblr is meant to be a site for everyone, so it makes sense to apply labels to keep NSFW content separate—both for those who should not being see it, and those who choose not to. And, hey, if you are looking for that kind of stuff, well, a label only makes it easier to find. Win-win!

The changes are now officially reflected on the app’s Community Guidelines page, which provides further clarification:

“Nudity and other kinds of adult material are generally welcome. We’re not here to judge your art, we just ask that you add a Community Label to your mature content so that people can choose to filter it out of their Dashboard if they prefer.”

Thank you for not judging our art, Tumblr! We’re self-conscious about it.

Related: People are taking Tumblr’s ban on x-rated content really, really personally

They continue: “Visual depictions of sexually explicit acts (or content with an overt focus on genitalia) are not allowed on Tumblr. That includes pictures, videos, GIFs, drawings, CGI, or anything similar.”

Ah-ha, so there’s the big only crunchy grain of salt. It’s not going to be a free-for-all like it used to be. They basically draw the line at p*rn in any form, whether that be professionally made adult films, amateur photography—what have you. As far as what is allowed, we’re talking tasteful nudes here. You know, the stuff you might also see hanging in an art museum.

And, on that note, the guidelines concede that, “Historically significant art that you may find in a mainstream museum and which depicts sex acts—such as from India’s Śuṅga Empire—are now allowed on Tumblr with proper labeling.”

[Note to self: Look up “Śuṅga Empire.”]

So, there you have it! The human form can exist freely on Tumblr once again… so long as it’s not engaged in anything sexual… unless of course said sexual act is deemed historically significant.

Will that be enough to attract viewers back to an app that many haven’t visited in the last four years? That remains to be seen. But, as the Musk-managed Bird app continues to fly the coop, these are desperate times. And desperate times call for a place where we can safely appreciate the naked human form in all its beauty!

You can find full text of Tumblr’s updated Community Guidelines here.

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