Tumblings, Have No Fear

Just don’t fuck­ing ask, okay?

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.)

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.