On Monday, the popular blog site Tumblr announced that it will ban adult content on Dec. 17 to rid porn-related communities and change how the site is used.
According to theverge.com, the ban will include explicit sexual content and nudity in the form of photos, videos and GIFs of human genitalia, “female-presenting” nipples and media involving sex acts.
Exceptions include nude classical statues, political protests that feature nudity and erotica text. Illustrations and art featuring nudity are fine, as long as sex acts aren’t depicted, and breastfeeding and birthing videos are safe, too.
Tumblr has programmed a specific algorithm to catch these no-go posts, and though the ban doesn’t roll out for another week and a half, the imperfect coding has already started to flag things that are beyond the word “innocent.”
Among the pre-date flags includes a “Great British Bake Off” GIF set, a 19-century, Victorian-dressed woman for being “too salacious,” pictures of fingers, Jesus and more.
For the coming ban and its ridiculous pre-date flags, where does the future lie for nude-based art? Beyond classical statues, political protests and erotic text, like fanfiction, is Tumblr’s use of people’s artistic creativity coming to an end?
There’s a big difference between apparent porn and artistic use of nudity. To the art students on Illinois State’s campus, nudity can be used expressively, it can be used to draw and to understand the way a body looks and contorts.
These drawings and expressive content could put themselves on display on Tumblr’s site, creating an atmosphere of inspiration and creativity for other site users who may come across the content, thus inspiring further use of creative expression of art using nude bodies.
Though the classical tradition of the nude has faded (but still remains acceptable on Tumblr), the appeal of nude art remains strong in contemporary art. Unlike idealized art of earlier pieces, contemporary nudes are extractions of classical times.
With the banning of nudes and the use of it for creative expression, another concern has been raised with this future ban.
A couple twitter users voicing disdain over the ban of female nipples on Tumblr raised questions as to why the same didn’t apply to male-presenting nipples. Men can walk around shirtless and, at most, won’t be served at restaurants whereas women going shirtless follows the same legality as public indecency.
Another complaint follows that a simple search on Tumblr’s site brings up blogs involving white supremacy, islamophobia, hate crimes and more. However, Tumblr has made no motion or announcement in attempting to rid these sites.
Tumblr had originally placed the nude ban in lieu of a child pornography incident, which makes sense, but a solution to that could be controlling, or eliminating, porn bots; enforcing a safe mode to protect and hide people from unwanted content; and banning the use of the site for white supremacy, Islamophobic and hate crime sites.
Instead of putting a ban on what is essentially creative expression, Tumblr should look for ways to ban what is truly defined as “not safe for work” content.