Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Consenting adults?



First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

- Pastor Martin Niemoller

The spectre of censorship has raised its ugly head again in the blogosphere, with the announcement that on 17th December Tumblr - that fast-moving, almost 100% visual mini-blogging site that is the inheritor of some of Blogger's more esoteric contributors such as the venerable Thombeau - is going to ban "adult content" from its site, which it defines in bizarre terms as “images, videos, or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples.” [Some wag out there in the interwebs made a suggestion about the latter that he expects to see all nipples in future sporting a suitably "male-presenting" moustache, and possibly a monocle.] Users have for years been begging them to close neo-Nazi posts, but instead Tumblr drew the line at nipples.

From the Independent yesterday:
...the blogging platform admitted that it “won’t always get [it] right”, but that its adult content ban was being imposed this week “out of love and hope” for its community. That seems like an odd thing to say, given the fact that Tumblr’s so-called “community” is largely made up of marginalised groups who first flocked to Tumblr precisely because of its relaxed approach to nudity and sex.

In fact, anti-censorship was generally understood to be one of Tumblr’s core principles, especially given its founder and former CEO David Karp’s outspokenness about the importance of net neutrality prior to technology giant Verizon’s purchase of the company in 2017, after its acquisition of Yahoo (which bought Tumblr in 2013)...

...What exactly motivated Tumblr’s decision isn’t clear at this stage – but given Verizon’s censor-happy history, it’s not hard to guess. This is a company that, in a 2012 legal brief to the US Court of Appeals over the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order, argued it should be able to “decide which content to publish and where”, as well as featuring “some content over others”. In 2007, it blocked an abortion rights group from using its services for a text message programme.

Tumblr’s “not safe for work” rule is simply a further extension of increasing controls on what we’re allowed to consume on the internet, especially when it comes to sexual expression. And it doesn’t seem likely to stop soon.

For all its claims of safety, especially for children, forming the basis of its decision, the fact that a company has the power to force an eclipse on what it deems to be unsavoury is a huge problem. It just reinforces the social restrictions most of Tumblr’s users sought to escape in the first place.

Considering the reduction in the amount of new users signing up to the platform and a failure to keep up with its existing ones, this could well be the final nail in the coffin for Tumblr. It only has itself to blame.
We at Blogger have been here before, of course - but a campaign by plucky bloggers against such censorship persuaded the mighty Google to reverse its ban (not before some of our own favourites had deserted here for pastures new, unfortunately).

As for the Tumblr censorship programme, warnings have already begun to be flagged by its robots and, and there are already huge rumblings of a mix of astonishment and anger. As the Guardian succinctly points out:
Ballet dancers, superheroes and a picture of Christ have all fallen foul of Tumblr’s new pornography ban, after the images were flagged up as explicit content by the blogging site’s artificial intelligence (AI) tools.
Indeed, my all-time favourite Tumblr user MattAdore is highlighting, in a stream of posts, some very bizarre and absurd anomalies turning up, such as...




It's a sad old world when yet another (c.f. MySpace, Photobucket) so-called "social" media site decides to commit such a public suicide. Let's hope our own "masters" at Google/Blogger hold their ground.

11 comments:

  1. Aarggh. So fed up of censorship from social media platforms. They never get it right, and their algorithms are half baked and badly trained.
    Sx

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    1. It should be called "antisocial media", really. Jx

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  2. Mind boggling madness and hypocrisy
    as demonstrated my the wonderful and non explicit Tumblr MattAdore

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    1. ...who will likely now decide to close his account. The internet is going to lose a helluva lot because of this decision. Jx

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  3. Oh get over yourself, it's hardly state persecution. They're a private business. Do oil paintings of your own willy and nail it up outside your own house if you're that desperate to exhibit it.

    Ps Cyd Charrisse, Liz Taylor and Annette Funicello should be proud they're still attracting censure from beyond the grave. And with so little on actual display, now that's power

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    1. Thankfully, my penis has never been featured on Tumblr (to my knowledge), otherwise I would understand why they might close down the "adult" content. However, if anyone else wishes to show their "real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples", I do not see why anyone should have the right to say they should not. A private business it may be, but any business that changes its policy decades after it provided a platform for the very stuff it now wishes to ban deserves every criticism it gets, frankly. I hope it goes bust. [Oops - that's probably too much of a reference to "female presenting nipples".] Jx

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  4. Ps this is the first I'd heard that there was porn on Tumblr.... I thought huh? I just thought it was where people put their Dr Who, Wonder Woman and Harry Potter fan art and had endless vicious arguments.

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    1. Well now you know. And there's plenty of Dr Who, Wonder Woman and Harry Potter porn art there as well. Jx

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  5. That's as may be, but think of it this way, suppose someone else's house has been proudly displaying an oil painting of your willy for ten years, and then the owner tells you they're not going to display it any more and just dedicate that space to bad drawings of Harry Potter instead, they'll look pretty stupid but it is their house.

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    1. Turning what was a sex shop into a posh boutique and sanitising yet another area that used to have character is just as wrong. We live in a world where there is far too much gentrification and puritanism, and I shall continue to mourn that fact. Jx

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  6. I should add that, if the government is persecuting the homeowner you chose to affix an oil painting of your willy to the front of your house and sebdibs in the police and army to destroy it, I'd hope everyone would agree that's wrong.


    The text correction on Blogger is crap by the way!

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