Although Tumblr doesn't advertise it, the blogging network has what TechCrunch calls "a seedy undercurrent," an underground network of NSFW content ranging from boy-on-boy manga to full-blown adult video. Parents and businesses alike should be wary of Tumblr given the amount of adult material that can be unearthed simply by following unrelated blogs, or performing a simple Google search.
But that may be changing. According to TechCrunch's report, Tumblr isn't opposed to porn as long as there's no actual video (which there is), and it's clearly flagged as adult material (which in many cases blogs aren't). Yet now there are several adult material publishers who are complaining that their Tumblr sites have been removed. producing a Not Found error. These blogs, claim the publishers, do not violate Tumblr's rules. Even more, they were deleted in a short space of time.
"When my site was deleted from Tumblr, I received an automated two-sentence email saying my account was deactivated for ‘spam or affiliate marketing’, which was false," one publisher told TechCrunch. "I ran standard ads units on the blog, I had no pop-ups, no predatory ads, no viruses, no creepy affiliate programs. The ads on my blog were no different than the ads on thousands of other Tumblr-hosted blogs today."
The other publisher basically said the same thing. "[Tumblr's] automated response said the reason for the termination was due to spamming and/or affiliate marketing. I’ve never spammed in my life. I have done something that was probably akin to affiliate marketing for [other] porn sites."
While the second publisher moved on to create his own stand-alone site, the first publisher said that he has tried repeatedly to contact Tumblr and clear up the issue surrounding his closure. More specifically, he questioned what had he done wrong and what he needs to do in order for his blogs to be re-launched. If that means removing the ads -- which supposedly fell within Tumblr's TOS -- then so be it. However the social network has not responded to his requests, nor has it returned the assets posted on the blogs.
“I would have permanently removed every ad unit on my blog if it saved me from a banning, but like I’ve said, I doubt ads were the real reason for this happening…I’m not angry, but I’m really disappointed that two and a half years of work could just be deleted without the courtesy of a real explanation," he said.
The big question here, as the report points out, is not over the right and wrong of adult material, but whether if Tumblr has quietly changed its policy on adult material. If so, then why now? Does this mean every blog using affiliate marketing could be the subject of a takedown? Are some blogs more at risk than others? Could this move branch out to other categories? Is the site finally cleaning itself up given its current rate of growth?
TechCrunch points out that Tumblr is now in a better position to shut down some of the most highly-visited porn-based blogs than it was just a few years ago. In 2009, the top 15 subdomains consisted of numerous adult-oriented blogs -- now there are none and include blogs from Minecraft's creator, The Boston Review, Healthy Way to Cook and more.
So far the blogging site hasn't released an official announcement.