2014 Dirty Dozen List: Tumblr

Tumblr on the 2014 Dirty Dozen List

Why is Tumblr on the Dirty Dozen List?

Introducing the Internet’s newest and hottest porn site, Tumblr! Tumblr is home to over 150 million self-hosted blogs.  Tumblr itself has stated that porn is more than welcome on it’s site.  Users only have to be 13 to join, and most blogs can be linked outside so you don’t even need an account to view them.  Tumblr is pushing porn on kids and provides little alternatives to users who do not want to be exposed to such content.

Tumblr argues that they have a filter one can turn on so they’ve done enough. But, this filter is a joke. Turning it on may filter out some of the exploitive content, but porn can still easily be plastered all over the user’s (child users) stream whether or not they wish to see it. 

Call on Tumblr to improve the filter and to get out of the porn business!

How Tumblr Works

From the dashboard, a Tumblr user has the ability to upload text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos, just as they say, but what most people do on Tumblr is simply reblog pictures they like. Next to the reblog button there’s also a like button. Pictures that are reblogged appear immediately on the dash of everyone who has followed the person reblogging it. If a Tumblr user hits the “like” button, the original poster receives a small message on their dash indicating that a person has liked their picture. You have the option to like it or reblog it”¦ and that’s it. You cannot flag a picture for inappropriate content. You cannot block a picture or content that you find offensive. Your only option is to unfollow the person that posted it. Once you unfollow a person, all of their pictures/content will immediately disappear from your dash, but they will still remain on the site, exposing other users to the content.


  • Why doesn’t Tumblr have a disclaimer screen that comes up when a person follows a blog warning them that the blog contains adult sexual content? It seems like a fairly simple safeguard measure to implement. Such a filter would allow parents to screen who their children follow on Tumblr and may deter teens from viewing adult content. At the very least, it would afford teens who are mature enough the opportunity to screen themselves.
  • Tumblr relies on the user to mark the content they share as NSFW (Not suitable for work) which would then be blocked by their “filter.” Users rarely take the time to mark the content as NFSW and therefore will not be picked up by the filter. In addition, Tumblr doesn’t allow for those exposed to such content to easily report it.
  • If anyone you are following on Tumblr reblogs pornographic and abusive images, even if you have NSFW filter enabled, it will still show up on your dashboard.

Proof of Tumblr’s Porn & Exploitation Problem

  • Message from Tumblr after user complained about pornography on their site:

“We allow sexually explicit content on Tumblr. We do not allow sexual explicit videos to be uploaded to Tumblr, but they may be embedded from external sources.”
    Marc LaFountain, Nov 01 09:51 (EDT)
    Tumblr Support


  • “Psst….Tumblr serves up porn to minors”

    This is a blog post about the mother of a 15-year-old daughter who logged into her daughter’s Tumblr. The mother was outraged by the amount of adult content on her daughter’s dashboard.  She tried to contact Tumblr about the problem, but they were no help.

  • “Tumblr Becoming The New Blog Platform of Choice for Pedophiles”

    Blog post detailing how several Tumblogs are solely dedicated to posting pictures of pre-pubescent boys and girls.

  • From Tumblr’s Community Guidelines:

    Unflagged NSFW Blogs. Tumblr is home to millions of readers and creators from a variety of locations, cultures, and backgrounds who hold different points of view concerning adult-oriented content. If you regularly post sexual or adult-oriented content, respect the choices of people in our community who would rather not see such content by flagging your blog (which you can do on your blog’s Settings page) as Not Suitable for Work (“NSFW”). This action doesn’t prevent you or your readers from using any of Tumblr’s social features, but rather screens your blog’s content from Tumblr users who would prefer not to see NSFW material.

    HOWEVER, Tumblr does very little to enforce this guideline and regularly allows violators to continue using the site. This means that even with their filter turned on, one’s personal feed is often still filled with porn and abusive content. In addition, they only require that users be 13 – they’re pushing porn on kids!


Take Action Now

  • Contact Tumblr Executives & Investors Here

  • Ask Congress and Law Enforcement to help pressure Tumblr

  • Tweet Tumblr
    • Tweet all Tumblr Execs here
    • Use this tweet: @Tumblr is now major #porn site. Why don’t you at least make #filters that work & block #kids? #dirtydozen
  • Share Your Story

    All stories will be shared anonymously. Click to here to submit.

  • Contact Tumblr

  • Tumblr Corporate address:

    Tumblr Corporate Office
    35 E 21st Street
    10th Floor
    New York City, NY 10010

  • Distribute this handout to your friends and family and ask them to get involved.


  • Consider prohibiting your child’s use of the popular site. Whether you sit next to them while they use the site, or they have the filter turned on, they will likely be exposed to pornography on Tumblr. Regularly have conversations with them about possible content they might encounter and about Internet safety;
  • Report pornography, child pornography and other questionable content to the proper authorities. Please do not seek to police the site on your own, but if you stumble across such content, report it to Tumblr, The Cyber Tipline and your local FBI office;
  • Make sure your friends and family are aware of the dangers on Tumblr and take action to protect against them. Encourage their involvement in this petition to Tumblr.

The Laws

Federal obscenity laws, which the U.S. Department of Justice refuses to currently enforce, prohibit distribution of hardcore, obscene pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite or hotel/motel TV and in sexually oriented businesses and other retail shops. (Learn more)

  • 18 U.S.C. 1462 Importation or use of a common carrier to transport obscene matter
  • 18 U.S.C. 1465 Interstate transportation of obscene matter

Sections 1462 and 1465 cited above also prohibit distribution of obscenity on the Internet.

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