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Tumblr’s Child Porn Crackdown Ensnares Legit Blogs in Purge

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Your favorite blogs on Tumblr may have been deleted over an attempt to root out child pornography.

Tumblr has been carrying out a blog purge after its iOS app was delisted from Apple’s App Store last week. As of Monday, the app was still missing from the store.

Initially, the social media platform remained mum on why the iOS app was pulled. But late on Monday, Tumblr revealed it had discovered child pornography on the platform.

The good news is that the illegal content has been removed. However, Tumblr’s crackdown also appears to have eliminated many blogs from artists who specialize in erotic art.

Tumblr’s iOS app was delisted last week at around the same time its support team mentioned on Twitter they had deleted a blog that was hosting child pornography. A user with the Twitter handle @ArcturusXxxiii had complained about the illegal images two days prior.

How is this going to get fixed if no one will acknowledge there is a problem,” tweeted @ArcturusXxxiii, who claims Tumblr failed to remove the illegal content, despite filing repeated complaints about the problem. According to @ArcturusXxxiii, the child pornography videos had also amassed thousands of user reactions below them.

In its help page notice, Tumblr said it has a “zero tolerance policy” toward child pornography. In addition, it has safeguards in place that can filter out the illegal content. But in this case, the system failed to detect the images.

Every image uploaded to Tumblr is scanned against an industry database of known child sexual abuse material, and images that are detected never reach the platform,” it said. “A routine audit discovered content on our platform that had not yet been included in the industry database.”

It isn’t clear why Tumblr’s iOS app still remains delisted on Apple’s App Store. But since Friday, the blogging platform has been trying to fix the problem. This appears to have resulted in a blog purge —regardless if they were hosting legitimate content or not.

“I follow a bunch of art study and anatomy accounts on there, all of them nuked,” reported one user on Monday.

An artist who publishes adult comics also said his blogs, including the “Safe for work” one, were deleted in the purge. “This is painful, 5 years of work deleted without explanation,” the artist tweeted.

The purge has been bad enough that rival social media service Mastodon has been encouraging affected users to join its platform.

Tumblr hasn’t commented on the crackdown or said if any of the affected blogs will be restored. But the accidental account closures might only be temporary. Although the platform doesn’t want to host porn videos, it does allow nudity and sexually explicit material, but advises its users to mark the content as “sensitive” or “explicit.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated with new information from Tumblr over its effort to stop child pornography.



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