Once upon a time, Tumblr had a reputation. It was the home of social justice and ridiculous internet micro culture. Then, in 2013, Yahoo bought the micro blogging site for $1 billion and thus began the great watering down. Fast forward to now and people have noticed something...strange going on in the tumblr tags.
Something is missing. And it's not a small something either.
Very recently, and with no explanation whatsoever, Tumblr made the word "lesbian" a blacklist search term. This means that tumblr users cannot view content tagged as "lesbian" if their Tumblr safe search is enabled.
This may not seem like a massive deal but it's a giant step backward for the site which once prided itself on being a safe space for LGBTQ+ people.
Tumblr: omg we love all the gays ahaha pride and stuff rainbows— morrissey (@Donatelc) August 20, 2016
Also Tumblr: *blocks the tag lesbian*
Tumblr has made all posts with #lesbian labeled NSFW. How are we still going backwards?!— Bex Taylor-Klaus (@IBexWeBex) August 20, 2016
You're not resolving explicit content. You're not blacklisting all sexuality terms. You're just making @tumblr hostile to lesbian users.— mackenzian (@mackenzian) August 21, 2016
the lesbian community is already oversexualized enough without tumblr contributing by labeling the tag as nsfw— tiana (@milkovvh) August 20, 2016
tumblr turned "lesbian" into a nsfw tag pic.twitter.com/DytD06XO7y— chris (@lesbivns) August 20, 2016
While the details of this are hazy, at best, we can extrapolate a few things about this bizarre action.
Firstly, anyone with a financial stake in Tumblr is hoping the site begins to turn a profile like...yesterday. In this effort, Tumblr staff may be taking the extreme step of "cleaning up" the site. Their idea of "cleaning up", however, seems to involve labeling an entire sexual orientation as NSFW.
Obviously, when you enter "heterosexual" some stuff pops so the anger is justified.
Tumblr hasn't explained itself, but it's a concern.
It's rather easy to see what happens in tech culture when representation is as low as it is. Snapchat keeps using racist filters because it very clearly does not employ enough people of colour to check their awful ideas. The same thing is probably happening here.
When there aren't enough poc and LGBTQ+ folk adding their unique perspectives to these important decisions, this is the outcome.
Lesbian women have spent years working hard to extract their identity from that of "porn culture" and inherent sexualization. When we tell them that they are NSFW, we're telling them that all their hard work doesn't mean anything.