Predictably, Tumblr's Engagement Figures Tank After Porn Ban

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Since the rollout of Tumblr's "safe mode", engagement on the site has tanked. Page views fell by almost 30 percent in the first three months alone. 

Allowing users to upload sexually explicit content involving minors to your social media platform is not a good look. So in response to Apple's decision to remove Tumblr's iOS app from its app store on child pornography grounds, company execs introduced an all-out ban on pornography and sexually explicit content, starting December 17, 2018. 

What, perhaps, Tumblr's execs weren't expecting was the dramatic drop in user engagement that followed. Indeed, according to SimilarWeb, traffic has fallen from 521 million visits in December to 369,500,000 in February 2019. That is 29 percent fewer page views.

This startling drop may have been less surprising had they re-read a certain study, which found that as many as 22 percent of Tumblr's user base are "adult content consumers". Aside from offering a podium for your pre-teen poetry, fan-fic, and pictures of dogs balancing food on their head, many are attracted to Tumblr for what they perceive as a safe space for exploring their sexual identity.

Needless to say, the ban has been deeply unpopular. Not only does it cover illegal content, it extends to any image, GIF, or video deemed NSFW. While there are caveats that allow users to upload erotic text and nudity found in art, NSFW here includes media that displays "real-life human genitals", "sex acts", or "female-presenting nipples". It seems male-presenting nipples are just fine.

Many commentators criticized the company's decision to enact an all-out ban at the time of the announcement, pointing out that the platform previously provided a space for many in the LGBT+ community to express themselves (sexually and non-sexually). Not to mention women who may feel excluded from the typically male-centric pornography you find on countless other platforms. 

As Glamour reported, "Because more women use Tumblr than men – 54 to 46 percent – it’s a given that much of the content is created by women for women, endowing it with an implicit sense of power and safety that often feels missing from more traditional porn sites."

What Tumblr execs now decide to do about these figures remains to be seen.

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