After announcing that they would now begin filtering adult content on its blogs, Tumblr seems to have begun filtering something else in the crossfire: “gay,” “lesbian,” and “bisexual” searches. Type any of those words into the Tumblr iOS app, and nothing will come up. Surely, this wouldn’t fall into the same threshold as adult content, right?
Well, it looks like adult content has nothing to do with it, and Tumblr and Yahoo are pointing the finger at Apple and their guidelines. In a new blog post from Tumblr CEO David Karp, he says the company decided to mesh these categories together in #lgbtq.
“Unfortunately, different app environments have different requirements that we do our best to adhere to,” Karp wrote. “The reason you see innocent tags like #gay being blocked on certain platforms is that they are still frequently returning adult content which our entire app was close to being banned for. The solution is more intelligent filtering which our team is working diligently on. We’ll get there soon. In the meantime, you can browse #lgbtq—which is moderated by our community editors—in all of Tumblr’s mobile apps. You can also see unfiltered search results on tumblr.com using your mobile web browser.”
Steve Jobs didn’t want any x-rated content in the App Store. If Tumblr were to allow blogs tagged with, say, #gay, many of them would (and were found to) return x-rated content. So, the Tumblr app would be banned from the App Store. The filter only seems to affect iOS, as searches on Android devices still work. Still, not all blogs labeled “gay” or “lesbian” have adult content, and people have taken offense. There is currently a petition over at Change.org to get Yahoo to stop labeling “gay” as NSFW.
Kyra Smith, a petition signer, wrote, “By making it more difficult to find specific communities (separate gay, lesbian, bisexual tagged posts) Yahoo is effectively isolating those youth. In addition, insinuating that anything related to those specific communities must be porn is insulting and homophobic.”