I’ve been playing around with iOS apps lately, which unfortunately means constantly refreshing the gorgeous but godforsaken Apple App Store app-wide. Yesterday evening, I happened to tap by the Social category’s top charts and spy a sort of application I didn’t know existed: a third-party client for the Tumblr dashboard called “TBR for Tumblr.” Not only did it exist — it was (and is currently) the #1 Paid Social App on iOS. I found this a bit odd because I remembered specifically going out of my way to write up a very positive review on their native app over the summer. After having gone months without even setting eyes on its icon, I’d opened it and plodded around enough to see that its UI’s animations and image display was far far better than it’d been the last time I opened the app. I never actually write app reviews for the store, but I legitimately thought we might bring back and convert some loyal users (and I do genuinely believe that good design needs to be verbally, intellectually, emotionally and financially more compensated, of course.)
For those of you who are worried about a “porn purge” on Tumblr (I freaked out too), It’s due to a bot trying to get rid of porn spam bots. Some artists got caught in the mix. If this is you, you can contact Tumblr and [politely] ask to be reactivated.— Mr Peculiar 🦃 (@mrpeculiart) November 20, 2018
I’m assuming that none of these events have any actual correlation at all, but I’m sure you’ve heard that Apple pulled the Tumblr app from the App Store sometime before Friday night and has yet to restore it. Last night, they explained that they’d found child pornography somewhere on the platform, for which it’s very hard to decide whom is to blame. A first positive I have to offer you: right now, lets appreciate that more of this content does not make it past our complex safeguards and on to the open web. Let us also take a moment to explain to any unfamiliar (or perhaps extremely elderly) readers that it was not the company who made the service and software called Tumblr that was “serving child pornography,” but rather an assortment of their individual users.
“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. A routine audit discovered content on our platform that had not yet been included in the industry database. We immediately removed this content.” -Tumblr’s live ticket for the November 16th issue.
It’s completely understandable that Tumblr users are disappointed, frightened, and/or angry, but I’d like to briefly touch on just a few reasons why none of these events need be the end of Tumblr. if anything, there’s an opportunity here for a serious rework of its fundamental structure.
- There is a third-party software development scene for Tumblr, which could likely be redesigned or slightly tweaked to circumvent any further law and/or policy-violating content — gourd forbid — and just interact with the stuff you want.
- Tumblr was built on The Open Web first and it will still be there when it ticks on its last 60 seconds of uptime (which doesn’t have to come anytime soon.) This means that you will always be able to access Tumblr with a web browser. If an account of yours happened to be misbanned with the rest, you can apparently request that it be looked back over and reinstated.
- God may have forsaken us, but we can have faith in Open Source: a federated Tumblr alternative is almost certainly manifesting right now in the mind of a genius web developer which will no doubt be way faster, more secure, better looking, and ETHICAL AS FUCK.
If fucking Lookbook is still around, I can’t imagine Tumblr will ever actually have a truly swift death forced upon it, for better or worse. The key of course is that we all have to stop panicking and attempting to archive our entire Tumblr histories — yes, it will die without any users.