Tumblr Is Trying To Win Back the Queer Audience It Drove Off

Tumblr might be the "queerest place on the internet," but people in the LGBTQ community say the platform drove them away.
A rainbow colored image that says "the queerest place on the internet."
Image Source: Tumblr

Last week, Tumblr tweeted it's the "queerest place on the internet." As you can tell by reading the almost 2,000 replies it quickly received, many users disagree.

In 2018, Tumblr made a controversial decision to remove all not safe for work and explicit content from its platform. The decision ended up impacting a lot more than just porn bots and revenge porn peddlers, though; according to users who balk at Tumblr's claims that its "queerest place on the internet," this policy change is responsible for purging LGBTQ users from the site.


The algorithm that Tumblr used to automatically flag content that may be against its guidelines was hilariously flawed, flagging pictures of Garfield as pornography. Many users cite these accidental flaggings, as well as Tumblr's policy of banning any presentation of a "female presenting nipple" as particularly effecting the queer community.

"We agree there were better ways of handling 2018’s adult content ban, and we take full ownership of our role in it and the impact it caused our LGBTQIA+ community," a representative for Tumblr told Motherboard. "We know people would agree that Tumblr’s main intention was to create a safer platform. We would never want to hurt anyone who loves this platform as much as we do. But we did and for that we deeply apologize."

In 2018, the adult content ban on Tumblr led to a mass exodus from the site. Many Tumblr users said they did not think this change would address the issues regarding revenge porn and child pornography that Tumblr said this policy move was designed to curtail

"It’s going to be throwing the baby out with the bathwater," one such user told Kotaku shortly after the ban was instated. "It will probably have some effect, yes, but (as we’ve seen in the past few days) the new content-ID/flagging system is not quite working properly yet, to put it kindly. In the shadowbans/mini purges, it wasn’t child porn or pornbots that were being targeted—it was educational things, SFW things, and completely random things."

Tumblr told Motherboard that it recognizes that it's fallen short in terms of supporting the LGBTQ community on Tumblr, which it called the "lifeforce" of the platform.

"As we shared, the LGBTQIA+ community is growing on Tumblr, and it’s always been the lifeforce of this platform. We want to do all we can to foster and celebrate it," Tumblr said. "We’ve heard the former user response to Tuesday’s announcement, and our next steps will be to find real concrete ways to support the LGBTQIA+ community on Tumblr."

Tumblr was one of the first places I felt comfortable calling myself queer on the internet, but I haven't meaningfully been on the website in years. It's hard to say what Tumblr could do to earn back the trust of this community. It seems like the queer artists, shitposters, and activists that were once the lifeforce of Tumblr have found other homes. For my part, I've long since realized that I don't need a social media platform to create a queer space on the internet. My internet is queer no matter where I am.