Tumblr: search terms are censored only because of the app store

The Tumblr blogging service is extremely careful with its iOS app to make sure Apple doesn’t delete the app. The service, now part of the parent company of WordPress Automattic, had struggled with the iPhone group’s app review in the past. Tumblr banned pornography from its offering years ago. But that doesn’t seem to be enough for Apple. For this reason, according to media reports, over 400 search terms have been censored in Tumblr for iPhone. If you type this, you get an error message – for example, this content is “hidden”.

In a Blogposting Tumblr explains his approach. These are “specific types of sensitive content,” according to the company. “In order to remain available in the Apple App Store, we have the definition of what sensitive content is […] extended to [Apples] Rules to match. “With some search terms, you get fewer results, sometimes even none. Then the app warns, among other things, that it could be “potentially ambiguous or explicit content” – although Tumblr itself prohibits it.

No more Macs and me

No more Macs and me

No more Macs and me

The censored search terms are surprisingly broad – it’s still unclear whether that’s due to Apple or Tumblr. For example, the English words for “addiction”, “donation”, “razor”, “bipolar”, “bulimia”, “depression”, “eating disorder”, “leep disorder”, “sexism”, “racism” or ” “Suicide prevention”, “mental illness” or “xenophobia” blocked. Tumblr chooses all of these itself, so it always seems to want to be on the safe side so as not to be thrown out of the App Store. The case is reminiscent of similar issues with the Discord community software.

For users, the new Tumblr policy is anything but transparent: even if you find content, it may be censored – instead of the respective Tumblr blog, then the app only shows that it is potentially problematic content. . Content is not blocked in Safari and other browsers. Tumblr itself is aware that the situation is “very frustrating”. Going forward, however, “significant new developments” in the way “sensitive content” is categorized are on the horizon. However, there are no dates for this yet.


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Amanda J. Marsh