The Korea Communications Standards Commission announced on Tuesday it might block access to the blogging site Tumblr because the platform denied requests to censor some sexually explicit content. “We will consider blocking Tumblr if the problem becomes serious,” KCSC Vice Chairman Heo Wook said, according to the South China Morning Post.

The research portal Statista estimates Tumblr now has roughly 357 active users. Tumblr reportedly replied to censorship requests by reminding Korean authorities the New York-based company doesn’t have an office in Korea, so it abides by American laws to promote free speech.

tumblr numbers Tumblr's advertising materials from 2014. Photo: Tumblr Inc.

According to the Pew Research Center, the blogging site’s user base skews young and female. The vast majority of Tumblr users are under 34. The platform is home to diverse networks of global LGBTQ communities, feminist activists, and sex workers. Many transgender teens use Tumblr to swap clothes and get help leaving abusive families. Unhindered discussions about sexuality are a key component of the brand’s reputation. The site is widely considered one of the internet's best free sources of feminist porn images, fan fiction and gifs.

An academic research paper published in the journal Social Network Analysis and Mining estimated 22 percent of Tumblr users were porn consumers. On the other hand, 28 percent of surveyed users had at one point unintentionally stumbled across sexualy explicit content, while 49 percent haven’t seen this type of Tumblr content at all. Glamour described Tumblr porn as artistic and chic, with a high ratio of gifs focusing on specific moments of female pleasure.




“You don't have to spend what's supposed to be a good time dreading something ‘bad’ happening later on,” a 34-year-old singer from New York told Glamor why she loves Tumblr’s pornographic gifs. “I'm not personally into consensual choking, so GIFs give me a way of enjoying the parts of a rougher sex scene that turn me on without having to wonder if parts that may make me uncomfortable are on the way.”

In addition hosting to a female-centric BDSM community, Tumblr is also one of the few free, mainstream hubs where queer girls create and discuss content celebrating sapphic love. For example, one of Tumblr's most active and supportive fan communities is the cult following behind a lesbian vampire Youtube series called  Carmilla. Fans have used Tumblr to help eachother come out to their families, safely explore their sexual identities and even crowdfund for similar LGBTQ projects while the original indie crew creates a Carmilla feature film



All of this isn’t to say Tumblr is free of offensive sexual content. As with any social media platform, it’s a mixed bag. Tumblr is already working to combat instances of revenge porn on its platform. This summer, it released the names of hundreds of people who shared revenge porn after a victim sued Tumblr in a Manhattan court.

Many sex workers around the world also use Tumblr to swap tips for safety and beneficial professional habits, like how to do their taxes and avoid arrest. Prostitution is illegal in South Korea, so this content could be seen as promoting criminal activity.

Even so, Korea’s focus on censoring Tumblr may appear disproportionate. According to the Korea Times, the KCSC sent Tumblr around 22,000 requests to delete “obscene” or sex-related posts from January to June, compared to just 12 requests sent to Instagram and five to Facebook. It's hard to imagine the discrepancy isn't impacted by social stigmas on some level. Plus, the blogging site already has an optional censorship mechanism. Tumblr’s “Safe Mode ” feature, which launched in June, obscures “sensitive content” and helps users control what type of posts they see. The filter accidently blocked LGBTQ content at first, but the fluke has since been fixed. 

“We are committed to ensuring that people aren't surprised by content they may find objectionable or offensive and are always working to provide tools to allow our users to filter their Tumblr experience accordingly,” a Tumblr spokeswoman told International Business Times in an email. “Tumblr is a global platform for creativity and freedom of expression."