|Sex Files||Dec 6 2018|
Users of popular internet platform sent for a nasty Tumbl.
The news broke Monday, and you may already know, that the image aggregation platform Tumblr has decided to ban nudity beginning December 17. After child porn was discovered among the tens of thousands of Tumblr pages, all users must now adhere to restrictions banning photos, videos, and GIFs “that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples” along with any visual content “that depicts sex acts.” Exceptions include breastfeeding images, images related to childbirth, nudity in sculptures, and other fine art. But what is fine art? This is a question we ask here all the time. Are Japanese film posters fine art? Sleaze paperback covers? Screen grabs from popular motion pictures?
Unmoderated sites will always draw problematic users, so conflict around this issue was inevitable. Needless to say, the ban will decimate thousands of users' work, as well as Pulp Intl.'s sidebar. Tumblr says it wants to create an online space that is open and safe, which is a worthy goal. Child porn is a scourge. But any blanket ban on nudity is going to result in the loss of important material. Should this be eradicated? This? This? This? If Pulp Intl. were a Tumblr page it all would be toast, and all our original scans from tabloids and movie magazines would be collateral damage. Though our discussions of nudity and sex are rooted in artistic merit, and are designed to make visitors think about changes in artistic media over the decades, Tumblr would see no nuances.
It's really a shame. Great Tumblr pages like Humungus and Bulles de Japon are now endangered, if not targeted. Burleskateer, the best Tumblr page that had been collating photos of mid-century burlesque dancers, has already preemptively decamped from the digital field. Sites that feature a little nudity but a lot of valuable content will have only two weeks to clean up their feeds, which may do no good anyway because they've possibly already been slated for annihilation. Ultimately, we think Tumblr should have simply moderated the site, but failing that a 90 day period for users to process this issue and, if possible, make arrangements to save the material for possible future usage would have been nice.
The lesson here is never, if at all possible, store content you consider important in other people's computers. That includes the cloud—which is just a fancy name for other people's computers. Which, by the way, happen to be open to cyberattacks, insider theft, and legal liability that you don't have to worry about using an encrypted external hard drive sitting on your desk. Not to mention that the same way Tumblr made a sudden change and left thousands in the lurch, a government could decide to intrude on your activities due to a sudden change in law. While it's true that nearly all internet content is trafficked through third party servers, those are—at the moment anyway—not under threat, and it's easy to move from server to server, country to country. We do it all the time. Well, dark days for Tumblr users, but the internet is a funny place. Where there's a demand there's often soon an answer.