Tumblr Censors Tags to Comply with Apple’s Guidelines
Tumblr updated its iOS app that will censor a long list of tags to comply with Apple’s strict safety guidelines. The platform explains that it’s changing iOS users’ ability to access sensitive content, affecting their experience when it comes to searching for content, scrolling through the “Stuff for You” and “Following” sections of the dashboard, and could even prevent access to blogs that are flagged.
A Twitter thread brought attention to some of the absurd tags that ended up getting filtered out on iOS, including the tag “submission.” However, that Tumblr applies that tag automatically when a post is submitted and then published to a blog on the platform. Users on iOS who receive a submission to their blog won’t even be able to view it since the “submission” tag is already added, as shown in a post by one Tumblr user.
Tumblr says it has to “extend the definition of what sensitive content is” to “remain available within Apple’s App Store,” and it seems that Tumblr stretched it pretty far. Tags are what make posts searchable on Tumblr; posts with censored tags won’t appear on a users’ dashboard, nor will they show up on the platform’s search page.
Some banned tags are blatantly related to sexual, violent, or harmful content, but others don’t seem to belong on the list, and may actually do more harm than good by staying on it. For example, “girl,” “sad,” and oddly enough, “Alec Lightwood,” an actor from the show Shadowhunters, has been banned. “Single dad,” “single mom,” “single parent,” “suicide prevention,” and “testicular cancer” are also on the list, potentially harming those who want to seek support in any of these areas.
Tumblr has also blacklisted some tags that basically function as unspoken social cues on the site. “Me” and “my face” are blocked, both of which are tags that bloggers use to label their selfies. The platform appears to have blocked “queue” as well, a tag that’s typically applied to posts that were placed in a queue and serves as a signal to followers that they may not be online at the moment.
Tumblr says it is working on additional features for a less restricted iOS app experience, but there’s no information on when or how this will be implemented. Users on Android or on the browser-based version of the site remain unaffected by this change. It remains unclear why Tumblr banned so many tags or if Apple was involved in any way. The Verge reached out to Apple with a request for comment but didn’t immediately hear back.