back to article Tumblr resorts to AI in attempt to scrub itself clean from filth

Tumblr is hoping to automatically cleanse its social media platform of explicit pornographic content, genitals and female nipples, by using machine learning algorithms. Jeff D’Onofrio, Tumblr's CEO, announced it would be rolling out a system to flag content uploaded to the site, as well as removing existing smut, from 17 …

  1. vir

    Spare A Thought

    For the "real, live humans" who will have to deal with the onslaught of false positives from the 32 million Tumblr posts per day. From the examples, it looks like there could be quite a few!

    1. Chozo

      Re: Spare A Thought

      Indeed spare a thought. Places such as chess.com with 20+ million users employ full time staff just to keep the smutty avatars under control.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spare A Thought

      "For the "real, live humans" who will have to deal with the onslaught of false positives from the 32 million Tumblr posts per day"

      It's OK, they have plan - in 2 months time there'll only be 3 posts a day on Tumblr, so they'll have planty of staff for performing their censorship duties.

      This will turn out fine for them, I mean look how well AOL and Yahoo! are doing.

      Erm...

      1. Avatar of They
        FAIL

        Re: Spare A Thought

        There is a very nice post on Tumblr about why this is happening, possibly a fire yard sale and a clean up act to hook in investors. So it may well go the way of Yahoo.

        1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

          Re: Spare A Thought

          "may well go the way of Yahoo."

          Well, tumblr used to be part of Yahoo until 2017 when it was spun off into its own subsidiary of Verizon.

        2. ds6 Bronze badge
          Coat

          Re: Spare A Thought

          Mind sharing that link to the Tumblr article? Or is it too scandalous for mortal eyes?

  2. Garymrrsn

    Oh What...

    ...a tangled mess we make

    when our profits are at stake.

  3. Bush_rat

    Let the Prisoners go Free!

    Either ban all nipples or allow all nipples! Viva la Nip! I never understood the fear of the feminine nipple myself. Also Tumblr has opened a can of worms it cannot possibly deal with. Tumblr is infamous for obscure subculture, and not all of its pr0n is obviously pr0n.

    1. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: Let the Prisoners go Free!

      Feminine nipples are no threat when being cut off or sucked.

    2. stiine Bronze badge

      Re: Let the Prisoners go Free!

      Oh, yes it is....but you can only recognise it if you are an adept.

    3. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Let the Prisoners go Free!

      This is the US we're talking about where puritanism still reigns supreme. Female nipples will turn women gay at the slightest glimpse and even the mere hint of an aureole will turn men into depraved sex fiends who spend their days tugging their bit and performing depraved acts with hookers.

      1. Barry Rueger Silver badge

        But I'm Canadian!

        Many years ago a woman named Gwen Jacobs fought all the way to the Supreme Court for the right to walk topless on Canadian streets during warm summer days.

        She won, enshrining the principle that male and female nipples should be treated equally.

        Will the Tumbler nip-blocker be disabled us?

        1. Baudwalk
          Coat

          Re: But I'm Canadian!

          >>>Many years ago a woman named Gwen Jacobs fought all the way to the Supreme Court for the right to walk topless on Canadian streets during warm summer days.

          She won, enshrining the principle that male and female nipples should be treated equally.<<<<

          Truly, not all heroes wear capes.

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        @imanidiot -- Re: Let the Prisoners go Free!

        This is the US we're talking about where puritanism still reigns supreme. Female nipples will turn women gay at the slightest glimpse and even the mere hint of an aureole will turn men into depraved sex fiends who spend their days tugging their bit and performing depraved acts with hookers.

        Sounds pretty normal for many places here in the States. You did miss the point about it being the "devils workshop". Also part of the tradition here is: "Those who scream the most about immorality are usually the worst offenders.". Let's see which politician screams first and loudest.

        1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

          Re: @imanidiot -- Let the Prisoners go Free!

          You did miss the point about it being the "devils workshop".

          Presumably only if there was three of them.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Let the Prisoners go Free!

        "even the mere hint of an aureole will turn men into depraved sex fiends who spend their days tugging their bit and performing depraved acts with hookers."

        Works for me!

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Let the Prisoners go Free!

      I never understood the fear of the feminine nipple myself

      Well, they're vaguely cylindrical, and generally significantly larger than the male variety. I can see how that might be threatening to certain people who are greatly invested in comparing the sizes of cylindrical body parts.

  4. Phil Kingston Silver badge

    My Tumblr feed is just filth. And I've some fairly niche tastes. So I'll have to find that somewhere else now. Boo.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge
      WTF?

      Don't worry. Looking at the #toosexyfortumblr on Twitter, it looks like it only blocks white flesh! You'll just need go multicultural.

      1. stiine Bronze badge

        Did that already...

        On a different note, is this going to impact the mastectomy survivors page that has the women, from very young and attractive to quite old and not-so-much, some of them nude, breast-less and proud to be alive and female, to the ones dressed as Amazonian single-breasted archers, replete with star-shaped scars on their chest where their breast had been. All of these images are both porn (at least to me) and at the same time a celebration of continued life after the big C...cancer.

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          "All of these images are both porn (at least to me)"

          Why? How?

          I'd like to know your rationalisation. Why is non-sexual nudity pornographic?

          The very word derives from the Greek for a prostitute (he pornaia).

          1. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: "All of these images are both porn (at least to me)"

            The very word derives from the Greek for a prostitute (he pornaia).

            Very good, but the general public don't care what the root of a word was or what it used to mean, they'll take your dictionary and beat you over the head with it.

            nude = porn

            in most of the publics mind, because a lot of trouble has been gone to by some vested interests (or just really lazy sloppy journalists mirroring the most common moron mindset - hey who says the internet is the first to hothouse reflect informed opinion back as fact) to purposefully muddle the two.

            You almost might as well try to correct the cracker/hacker mislabel.

            1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

              @Teiwaz Re: "All of these images are both porn (at least to me)"

              "You almost might as well try to correct the cracker/hacker mislabel."

              Upvoted for the Ken Thompson reference.

            2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

              Re: "All of these images are both porn (at least to me)"

              "Very good, but the general public don't care what the root of a word was or what it used to mean, they'll take your dictionary and beat you over the head with it."

              But over here where we don't have political elected judges, m'lud tends to be well educated and does care.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "All of these images are both porn (at least to me)"

              > nude = porn .............in most of the publics mind

              Nah, this is a very old fashioned view, any pictures of anything designed to elicit lust/desire/want are porn these days. So on tele they have programs about food porn, cake porn, house porn, hotel porn, car porn, sewing porn etc...

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: "All of these images are both porn (at least to me)"

            "I'd like to know your rationalisation. Why is non-sexual nudity pornographic?"

            Different strokes for different folks is the answer. Some people get off on the strangest of things that many others would not consider sexual or porn at all. Look what happened when the UK tried to legislate what is meant by porn.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "All of these images are both porn (at least to me)"

              Different strokes for different folks

              Grin, any talk about stroking is going to put the conversation on an entirely different track.

              :)

            2. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

              Re: "All of these images are both porn (at least to me)"

              Rule 34.

              1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

                Re: "All of these images are both porn (at least to me)"

                Also http://flem.keenspot.com/d/20000909.html

  5. spold Bronze badge

    AI = outsourced to China creating new and fulfilling career opportunities

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But...

    If you take away the p0rn from Tumblr are you just left with MySpace without the content?

    I understand Tumblrs noble ambitions, but they may have misread their market and I suspect their attempts at addressing the underlying issue may have a high failure/success ratio...

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: But...

      "I understand Tumblrs noble ambitions"

      I dont , even after just now having read their wikipedia page.

      "short form blogging" apparently

      whats that? Whats it for? who uses it?

      I guess im too old

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: But...

        ""short form blogging" apparently

        What? Tumblr is Twitter?

    2. Steve McGuinness

      Re: But...

      I've seen people saying "this is the death of Tumblr" in a lot of locations, but its not.

      Myspace dragged its broken carcass around for another 4 or 5 years after people stopped using it, people were convinced it still had value. There's no question someone will be dumb enough to buy Tumblr after a few years and attempt a huge relaunch which will fail because there's nothing it offers that doesnt involve hosting porn.

      It should finally get shut down in 2023

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But...

      There's plenty of stuff on tumblr that isn't p0rn, but it's often very niche stuff (eg Harry Potter x furry x Mr Blobby fanfic).

      There was also some pretty, erm, specialised, p0rn collections, which are under represented in the commercial realm.

    4. Pirate Dave
      Pirate

      Re: But...

      I always thought Tumblr was basically a soft-porn site masquerading as a blogging platform for moody teens. Seems like if they kick all the pr0n out, they'll be bereft of content. Yeah, like MySpace, but without all the crappy music.

  7. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Obscenity

    If they are going to go full hog on removing obscene pictures, then they should remove all pictures of firearms too.

    I know that ye Americans still need them in case the British ever invade again, but I think that you are safe for the time being. They have problems of their own that need sorting out first. And the firearms have created more than a few problems for yourselves, as ye may have noticed #AllLivesMatter.

    (And this doesn't earn me downvotes, then nothing will...)

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Obscenity is subjective

      Quite right

      What about the gun porn with bikini clad ladies or even beardy blokes in leather jackets or trucker caps and dirty t-shirts cradling huge weaponery

      also unix porn (fun in the 2000s but a little tired now), animal porn (way too much kitty pics is excessive), weird fetishes that don't involve nipples like latex, gimps and strange 'are you my mummy' gas mask things in off putting colours (and smells no doubt were you to encounter such a pervert in person if you find excessive talcum powder off putting).

      this message brought to you by someone who can't 'identify as' anything as there doesn't appear to be a name, label or category for it.

  8. DavCrav Silver badge

    I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the following interesting logic:

    1) App gets banned for hosting child porn.

    2) Tumblr decides to ban female-presented nipples. And not, like, child porn.

    If the only way they can stop child porn is to ban pictures of adults, I think they really shouldn't be in business.

    1. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: Child porn

      Yes if the problem is child porn then ban child porn. However easier just to ban photos of children since a paedo enjoys all pictures of children.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Child porn

        Yes if the problem is child porn then ban child porn. However easier just to ban photos of children since a paedo enjoys all pictures of children.

        So do many who would certainly be outraged by being though of in the same way. Women who coo over baby pictures, especially those awful pastel attempts featuring infants dressed up as flowers, and lonely old people who enjoy church pantomimes featuring children not related to them.

        1. MiguelC Silver badge

          Re: Child porn

          Ban! Ban! Ban!

          To err on the safe side, they should ban all images!

          And ban all videos too (don't really know if video is allowed, and didn't care to check)!.

          And ban all text, text can be problematic too.

          Only then they'll have a safe place for all to enjoy.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Child porn

            Not really. What about the deviance in their own heads?

            1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

              Re: Child porn

              Then we need to ban heads!

              To the guillotine with them...

              Wheres the puritian loony icon?

            2. Mark 85 Silver badge

              Re: Child porn

              Not really. What about the deviance in their own heads?

              Define "deviance". What's acceptable in one culture is a death sentence in another.

          2. Evil Auditor Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: Child porn

            Ban images, text?

            What kind of beginner are you, MiguelC?

            Ban children! I say. It's the only way to be sure. And in a not so distant future there won't be and kiddy fiddlers. Or anyone else for that matter. Problem solved.

          3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Re: Child porn -To err on the safe side, they should ban all images!

            There's a book that says that. Can't be too careful.

            It's also in favour of killing people who don't agree with its ban on images.

      2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Child porn

        "ban photos of children since a paedo enjoys all pictures of children" - and cheese, I know a couple of people who I suspect have odd tendencies but they love cheese - Tumblr needs to ban cheese!

        I don't think that banning anything fixes anything - unless it's the BBC banning a record which will really help sales - who liked David Bowie before the BBC banned Space Oddity?

        1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

          " who liked David Bowie before the BBC banned Space Oddity?"

          Nope, preferred Funky Moped.

          As Jasper Carrott himself said:

          "Why's it banned? Cos it's crap!"

    2. DougS Silver badge

      People are just assuming Apple's app ban was the reason

      There have been no statements from Tumblr confirming that, so it is just that, an assumption. This would be quite a big change in direction over a ban that lasted only a few days - and if there really was child porn found one that arguably had a good reason.

      Going from "people are putting child porn on our platform" to "we should delete all pictures of topless women" is a pretty big stretch. If Apple was banning all apps with any nudity at all, there would be a LOT of apps up for deletion, so that's obviously not the reason. Maybe Tumblr felt it would be easier to ban everything beyond bikini pics, but then they have to try to draw line for "art" when it comes to photos of naked women. What makes it art, if the picture is black and white?

      1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

        Re: People are just assuming Apple's app ban was the reason

        Exactly! Tumblr.com is still available on the web, so the only rationale for the ban is to get the dedicated "go to our site only" app back on the Apple store.

        Were I the suspicious and cynical sort of individual (which, of course, I'm not!) I might think that Tumblr didn't want to lose the "walled garden" of having people accessing their website through an app that doesn't remind them that there are other content-serving sites out there.

  9. Semtex451 Silver badge

    Pron

    I finally understand what Tumblr is for.

  10. Steve McGuinness

    Blanket Ban on Searches

    Judging by my testing of this last night, Tumblr simply picked up dozens of words which relate to sex or sexual content and just blocked all searches on them. The pages are still there, you just cant find them using the search function.

    I wonder if after this "Scrub" they'll still be there, just unable to update, hanging about like a fart in an echo chamber

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Blanket Ban on Searches

      Judging by my testing of this last night, Tumblr simply picked up dozens of words which relate to sex or sexual content and just blocked all searches on them.

      Bad luck for those looking for content on cocktail recipes featuring salt on the edge of the glass then. Too easily confused by the other sort of 'how to rim'

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Blanket Ban on Searches

      They've had that for some time it isn't a recent thing. Somebody posted at the time they did it that they'd better not forget that it was porn that had made tumblr what it is.

  11. Lloyd

    Remove the pron from Tumblr

    Ah, I see, so their target market is now gym photos because outside of pron that's the only other content on Tumblr.

    Apparently.

    A mate told me.

    Honest.

  12. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    I understand for the Coprophilia forums,....

    ... they plan to use faecal recognition software.

    I'll get my coat.

    1. Steve McGuinness

      Re: I understand for the Coprophilia forums,....

      That was the shittiest joke I've heard today

      1. VikiAi Silver badge
        Go

        Re: I understand for the Coprophilia forums,....

        I dunno. I guess it was fine for shits and giggles.

      2. Steevee
        Happy

        Re: I understand for the Coprophilia forums,....

        Who are you to poo-poo someone's sense of humour?

    2. Pirate Dave
      Pirate

      Re: I understand for the Coprophilia forums,....

      That's the turd time I've heard that joke today.

      1. steve 124

        Re: I understand for the Coprophilia forums,....

        Bye Tumblr... Thanks for the mammaries!

  13. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
    Flame

    Nipples ye say?

    Ah ye cannae be bannin' online photos of the female nipple. How else am I tae find them? Those jezebels, harlots and servants o' the evil one. Nae not for that laddie. Ye need to count them! And if they hae more than 2 nipples, then ye need to burn them!

    Tumblr be full o' witches I tell thee!

    1. Locky Silver badge

      Re: Nipples ye say?

      Witchfinder Shadwell? Calm yourself with a glass of condensed milk

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: Nipples ye say?

        Ye spotted me laddie. Now, how would ye like a bright future in the Witchfinder Army? Pin and matches provided.

        Of course with the introduction of the internet he'd be onto a good thing now. All those nipples to search for, without needing to leave the warm comfort of home. Broadband bills might be a bit high mind...

  14. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    So Tumblr is no longer...

    ...the up-and-coming social media platform?

    I think these guys need a tall, stiff drink.

  15. CJatCTi
    WTF?

    Human moderators are thick too

    My wife tried to sell her old brest pump for expressing milk, now our baby is on solids and Facebook Market blocked it. She then just called <brand name> pump for experssing milk, they blocked the brest free version too. She appealed and the human moderator replyed the Market Place didn't let you sell sex toys.

    So with anything looking like skin being banned the site will stop getting any visitors very soon

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Human moderators are thick too

      Who said he was a human?

      Pratchett noted in Men at Arms that people aren't naturally paid up members of humanity, merely because they were born human.

      Just about everything humans do will offend some who don't spend much time around others and think their own experience or understanding of life is the be all end all.

  16. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Trollface

    Perhaps...

    They could pick up a tip from the self-driving car boys and use unpaid labour to identify all variants of traffic lights, bridges, buses etc., via RECaptcha*.

    * Replace traffic lights, bridges, buses etc., with *******, *********, *****, etc.

  17. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Considering all of the shite on Tumblr...

    Considering all of the shite on Tumblr surely the easiest way to solve this is to ban everything and then approve content on an exception only basis rather than rely on some shonky "not actually AI" algorithm.

  18. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

    If past attempts are anything to go by,

    When you appeal a post we’ve marked as adult, it gets sent to a real, live human who will look it over with their real, live human eye(s)

    really means "When you appeal a post we’ve marked as adult, it gets sent to a real, live human who will look it over with their real, live human eye(s), and select a dismissal from our canned statements collection. Oh, and probably perma-ban you for the trouble, too".

  19. Evil Auditor Silver badge
    Devil

    “Using a binary classifier to identify masculine and feminine nipples for the purposes of cutting out porn is ludicrous.”

    Ludicrous is only the application of said classifier. Using such to identify feminine nipples for the purpose of showing, well, feminine nipples... I'll leave that to you but there's something I like about that idea.

  20. Jay Lenovo Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Boobs, Shaded like Boobs, and Right said Fred

    All... Too sexy for Tumblr

  21. Patrick R
    WTF?

    What the world needs now is MORE nipples. More breasts in NON SEXUAL context. Breast feeding, natural pose, topless on the beach, antic statues, everyday life. That is NOT porn, that is "normal". People should get used to them, not choke on them. Saying a good breast is a censored (or amputated) breast is not helping the fundamental problem.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      antic statues

      Are they the ones that get up to stuff when nobody's looking?

      Van Clomp's The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies is Art I tell you, Art!

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "Van Clomp's The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies is Art I tell you, Art!"

        It just sold for more than most genuine "old masters", 15 grand! Not bad for a stage prop!

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Saying a good breast is a censored (or amputated) breast is not helping the fundamental problem.

      Indeed.

      I'm trying to figure out if Katyanna's "It may sound like a good idea at first" was intended to be sarcastic. I can't imagine what sensible person would think banning "female-presenting nipples" could be a good idea.

      (And that's a rather bizarre phrase. The nipples are presenting a female? "Look at my person! Woo!" Whoever came up with it has a tenuous grasp of English; I suspect they're not very good with logic or critical thinking, either.)

      I never use Tumblr, so it doesn't bother me personally if this move guts it, but it's a regrettable sign of the calculated, unethical leap to censorship that social-media firms are making when their profits are threatened.

  22. imanidiot Silver badge

    Why do you think the net was born?

    The internet is for porn from the musical Avenue Q says it all.

  23. steviebuk Silver badge

    As always the CEO..

    ..jumps in and bigs it up whereas everyone else with any sense knows this is going to fail massively.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As always the CEO..

      You mean it'll go tits up?

      Kinda defeats the point, no?

      :)

  24. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
    Trollface

    It's a trap!

    pass the mind bleach.

  25. Ima Ballsy
    Holmes

    I see ....

    Opportunity knocking !!! One with nipples and micro blogs and advertising and $$$$$.

    Shit in 3 or four someone will by my creation for BIIIILIONS, I say ...

  26. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. J. Cook Silver badge
    Alert

    A few interesting tidbits...

    Tumblr is owned by Verizon, which owns Oath/Yahoo.

    They are flagging pretty much anything that shows more than a certain percentage of flesh tone, regardless if there's actual nipple or genitalia showing.

    They are *also* flagging a laundry list of tags, some adult oriented, but a good number of non-adult oriented. (the LGBT and furry communities were hit extra hard by that)

    They are letting all the nazis, alt-right, and other hate groups stay.

    In short, if you have any original content on that platform, back it up and move your stuff elsewhere. it's Not long for this world.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A few interesting tidbits...

      Should that not be tit bits?

      Just musing.

      1. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: A few interesting tidbits...

        I was trying to avoid making that joke, but thanks anyway,

  28. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Well that is a large proportion of Tumblr blogs moving off to alternative platforms then. I am guessing the owners don't understand what they bought when they purchased the platform that is had always been adult friendly.

    So rather than just sort out the problem with kiddy pron that caused the issue with Apple pulling their app, they used a sledgehammer to crack a nut and ban all pron. The site could still be access through a browser anyway so its hardly loosing much not to have the app.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well that is a large proportion of Tumblr blogs moving off to alternative platforms then.

      Ironically, 'alternative' is quite the appropriate word, but the question is where? Given that most of the platforms eventually tend to be gobbled up by big US players chasing the "ubiquitous" status (to use the words that Zuckerberg didn't want to go public), whatever alternative will only ever have a limited lifespan. The irony doubles when you realise that it is exactly being that alternative that enables the growth in the first place.

      Going off on a slight tangent, anyone who seeks to triple the irony only has to observe, that for a country that is scared of even a single bare nipple, it does not appear to have a problem with publishing the results of a lack of gun control in graphic, and unfortunately almost daily detail..

  29. Jim-234

    Even the supposedly "Progressive" corporations are a bunch of Puritans in the USA

    You would think that at this stage with all the big "Social Media" companies and their associated technocrats constantly saying how "Inclusive", "Tolerant", "Accepting of everyone", "Progressive", "Liberal", "?????+ Friendly" they are, still they actually are basically no more evolved in attitudes than a bunch of Fanatical Puritans.

    I'm not sure how Corporate America became the enforcement arm of the Puritanical Religious Zealots, while claiming to be "progressive", but they seem to be doing a excellent job of banning everything that a Religious Zealot might not like.

    It is really kind of sad that we are still saddled with such stupid outlooks on the human body & human sexuality.

    At least the Nazi lovers on Tumblr will be happy, most of them like posting long diatribes about how naked pictures are a (insert some race here as needed) plot to ruin their minds. (Because apparently the minds of the superior race are too weak to stand up to a picture of a fully naked human).

    Pictures of graphic violence, war, weapons, gore and brutality seem to be fine with the Puritanical censors that run Corporate America.

    Then they wonder why everybody is making war and not love?

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Even the supposedly "Progressive" corporations are a bunch of Puritans in the USA

      I'm not sure how Corporate America became the enforcement arm of the Puritanical Religious Zealots, while claiming to be "progressive",

      I think that one can be easily traced back to the first settlers to America and the generally overarching mainstream puritan mindset that still exists, despite the occasional vibrant subculture movements in the opposite direction.

      We've been going in this direction since the eighties, every decade it gets worse. Inclusive and tolerant only if the group can be packaged for a good personal interest story - the kind of thing that passes for news these days.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Even the supposedly "Progressive" corporations are a bunch of Puritans in the USA

        I think that one can be easily traced back to the first settlers to America

        Jeez, what did they ever do to you? Did you find a clovis point in your soup or something?

        Maybe you're thinking of the first European settlers in what's now the US, but the Vikings weren't noted for their sexual repression. Nor were the Spanish, particularly.

        The Puritans were latecomers. They mostly started arriving around 1630, some 65 years after the Spanish established St Augustine and Española.

        The Puritans also weren't anti-sex. They may have demanded a certain level of public modesty (which, sure, I think was unnecessary, but in the greater scheme of things was pretty minor); but they liked their sexual congress within their framework of mores. We have plenty of evidence of that in their journals and poetry and other writings; see for example Hughes, "Meat Out of the Eater: Panic and Desire in American Puritan Poetry".

        Public repression of sexual content in the US is motivated by a combination of acculturated neuroses with a long and complex history (not just "it was the damn Puritans") and a cynical calculus of sociopolitical control. While some of the anti-porn zealots (e.g. Dworkin and MacKinnon) are or were, I believe, genuinely motivated by a belief in an inherent social danger,1 most of them are of the other variety, loudly condemning in public what they fetishize in private. It's useful in US politics because enough of the polis supports it, and they're encouraged to continue supporting it because it's useful.

        Like any industrial democracy, the US has a long history of using one form of social difference to distract from other categories, and thus discourage the formation of alliances against the group in power. In the late 19th century US politicians and other influential people did a great job of burying class differences behind race and ethnicity; that's why class politics are nearly absent in the US (unlike in, say, the UK), while race remains a raw wound.

        (Ethnicity has largely been defused by the "becoming white" social-mobility mechanism, which proved too hard to stem because of the demand for skilled labor, and by the growth of mass media, which expanded people's social circles and so interfered with their ability to easily classify and stereotype people based on ethnicity. Race is tied to a simpler and more-apparent set of bodily markers and so is easier to trigger.)

        In other words, complex problems are complex.

        1I saw Dworkin at Miami University in the early '90s. I was not persuaded of her thesis, but she certainly seemed sincere.

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Even the supposedly "Progressive" corporations are a bunch of Puritans in the USA

          Maybe you're thinking of the first European settlers in what's now the US, but the Vikings weren't noted for their sexual repression. Nor were the Spanish, particularly..............................

          ...................................In other words, complex problems are complex.

          I still think my observation, while maybe less accurate, is pithier.

          And I am sorry, I am not qualified to award you your degree for that thesis.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Even the supposedly "Progressive" corporations are a bunch of Puritans in the USA

      Then they wonder why everybody is making war and not love?

      Nope... no wondering at all actually. Follow the money and follow the political/social power. War has both profit and power.

  30. irrelevant

    Filters

    This makes me wonder why they don't just release an app that simply won't allow access to flagged posts. Leave them on the system, accessible via Web browser, just not via the app. No problem with deleting anything, then, and problem is avoided.

    1. J. Cook Silver badge

      Re: Filters

      This makes me wonder why they don't just release an app that simply won't allow access to flagged posts. Leave them on the system, accessible via Web browser, just not via the app. No problem with deleting anything, then, and problem is avoided.

      Part of that problem is that the AI is flagging posts incorrectly, because it's been trained wrong, and there's no human intervention or guidance.

      The Tumblr app just plain sucked anyway, and didn't behave the way their website did; that's why I dumped it quite some time ago.

  31. hellwig Silver badge

    Single Pixel Obscuring and Steganography

    I remember reading a story where some boffins had successfully tricked Google's image recognition by changing only few key pixels in specific areas of an image. Google thought a dog was a car (90% sure).

    Basically like steganography, only hiding "safe" information in an otherwise "unsafe" image.

    Or, trolls could do the opposite. Post some "inspirational" image to twitter, then watch Grandma's tumblr get flagged because she tried to re-upload that same image (do grandmothers use tumblr?).

    I guess my point is, they'll have to flush the entire site and review all new uploads manually. Goodbye Tumblr.

  32. HolySchmoley

    "female-presenting nipples"

    Have they been playing with this?

    https://mleddy.blogspot.com/2016/03/buzz-phrase-generator.html

  33. cutterman

    Differentiating nipples

    Not too hard to difficult to differentiate male (or child) nipples from adult female.

    Surprisingly it is the relative size of the papilla (that sticky-out bit in the middle of the areola) that is the most reliable differentiator. And male areolae are elliptical instead of round. Areolar size varies too much among women to be a differentiator.

    Don't ask me how I know...

    Mac

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Differentiating nipples

      @cutterman

      I expect you have a collection in a sack in the basement, or a small room with white plasterboard shelves otherwise wallpapered in newspaper cuttings and your trophies laid out neatly labelled on the little shelves.

  34. steve 124

    Help Wanted - Tumblr

    So, how do we apply for the new positions opening in Tumblr's Trust & Safety team? That sounds like a pretty pu--- (oops, cushy) job to me. Does it pay well? Are we allowed to bring thumbdrives to work?

    LOL!

    Good bye Tumblr.... you were amazing once, but if you could just scoot your desk all the way back, yes, right there next to MySpace... we're going to need to store some boxes in here... um, yeah...

    Oh, and there's that stapler... I'll just take that...

  35. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Well bugger me with a fish fork, start up a picture sharing site and before you know it pervs are using it share naughty piccies. Then after years and years running it Tumblr finally decide now is the time to start cleaning up the garbage, talk about trying to hold back the tide with a slice of bread!

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