Blogging website Tumblr recently announced that it will completely ban pornography and other types of adult content on its website starting on Dec. 17. Interestingly, the announcement has sparked several arguments on whether or not the decision to do so is the right move for the Yahoo-owned company.

The hullabaloo started last month when Tumblr was removed from Apple’s App Store after it was discovered that the site contained child pornography. Tumblr explained in a statement that the questionable content slipped through its scan of “industry database of child sexual abuse material,” but it managed to immediately remove it.

Tumblr has always been a platform that allowed pornography and other NSFW content, but that has been abused by some users who shared child pornography on the site. The problem with Tumblr’s blanket solution is that some of its rules are vague and they are being enforced by automated tools that aren’t completely reliable.

Tumblr classifies adult content as “photos, videos, or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples” and any content that depicts sexual acts. The “female-presenting nipples” phrase has received a lot of criticism since it judges people’s anatomy based on a specific conception of gender, as pointed out by Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Another problem here is how Tumblr exempts some content showing “female-presenting nipples” depending on context. Some examples include written erotica, political nudity and art. Unfortunately, all of these are subjective, leaving a huge room for users to get their content flagged for a variety of reasons.

Child pornography is vile and illegal, but having a complete ban on all “adult content” on Tumblr would hurt established communities on the platform. Tumblr is enforcing its pornography ban using algorithms that are capable of making mistakes. Tumblr CEO Jeff D’Onofrio even admitted this bit in a own blog post.

Many Tumblr users have shared on Twitter that some of their innocent posts, including images of artistic sculptures, are being flagged for showing adult content. According to The Next Web, this would harm the livelihood of many artists who share their work on the site.

Tumblr was once a safe space for a lot of people to browse pornography with a decent amount of privacy. The site used to be a platform where sex-positive communities could grow and thrive. With the incoming porn ban, these communities have nowhere else to go. The internet may be full of pornography, but Tumblr was the only sex-positive space that catered to all kinds of people, including those in the LGBTQ+ community.

Tumblr’s algorithms are already flagging posts containing people’s personal experiences about sexual identity and stories about losing a loved one due to AIDS, as per BuzzFeed News. What’s more frustrating about the situation is that Tumblr’s CEO has even said that they will continue to foster this type of expression on its platform.

“We recognize Tumblr is also a place to speak freely about topics like art, sex positivity, your relationships, your sexuality, and your personal journey. We want to make sure that we continue to foster this type of diversity of expression in the community, so our new policy strives to strike a balance,” D’Onofrio said.

Tumblr’s porn ban will definitely purge the site of child pornography. But, at the same time, it will also affect everyone else who aren’t involved in this taboo. On the whole, the ban could potentially convince a large number of users to leave the site entirely rather than put up with policies that restrict their sexual expression.

Tumblr Tumblr porn ban is already flagging innocent posts as adult content. Photo: LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images