Tumblr this week introduced a safe mode for its services, which combines the companys previously available safe search functionality with a new filter that they are able to hide sensitive content from the areas main Dashboard, employing an overlay. However, Tumblr promptly saw under burn for disguising sensitive content that was anything but instead , mentioned many consumers, Tumblr was seemingly filtering out innocent posts, including LGBTQ+ content, for no apparent reason.
This wouldnt be the first time that LGBTQ+ content got caught up in an algorithmic filter of some kind. YouTube this week likewise announced it had updated the current policy after LGBTQ+ videos had been inadvertently blocked when viewing YouTube in Restricted Mode.( The company hadaddressed the problem back in April .)
In YouTubes case, the company claimed an engineering issue with its filter was to blame.
What was going on at Tumblr, however, was less immediately clear.
The company had earlier used to say content was being flagged as sensitive through a combination of automation and human moderation. It described sensitive content broadly; even artistic nudity, or nudity in an education or photojournalistic context, may be considered sensitive, it had said.
Given that it was now hiding innocent photos and illustrations including those “thats been” LGBTQ+ -themed but not explicit questions were raised about whether Tumblr had actually begun to censor its typically more inclusive community.
Plus, people wanted to know, was this Verizons fault? Verizon, which also owns TechCrunch mother AOL, had just picked up Tumblr through the Yahoo acquisition.( And it had already been attaining some changes .)
Similar to the issue with YouTube, Tumblrs problem of censorship or filtering gone wrong disproportionately affected younger consumers. With YouTube, for example, Curtailed Mode is often enabled on academy computers or in libraries. And these are sometimes the only places where LGBTQ+ youth can seek out their communities online.
Tumblrs filtering system, meanwhile, was designedto hide explicit blogs from search results on the web, and was going to be automatically enabled for any logged-out consumers as well as those under 18, starting on July 5th, 2017.
On Friday, Tumblr address the question of innocuous posts, including LGBTQ+ content, being flagged and hidden. The corporation clarified what had happened, and apologized to its community.
Please know that was never our intent, a blog post stated, referring to how LGBTQ+ content had been blocked. Were deeply sorry. Tumblr will always be a region where everyone is welcome and protected, so we want to explain what happened.
The majority of the problem had to do with the fact that many of the blog architects themselves had recognized their own blogs as Explicit. This is an optional specifying bloggers on Tumblr can use to warn the community that their locate may host adult material. It likewise means those blogs will be filtered out from Safe Search outcomes.( This is how the system has worked for years, so thats not new .)