In early December 2018, social networking site Tumblr made an announcement to its user base that sent massive shock waves through many a fandom that for years have called the site home. To put it in the simplest of terms as of December 17, 2018, all NSFW content considered pornographic or Adult in nature would be purged and banned from the site. This was a big blow for the yaoi community that for years has called Tumblr home. It was a safe haven for many of us to get to know some of our favorite artists, but this was not my first time having to deal with a purge that has affected the fandom I love so much. To be honest when you are part of certain groups and fandoms you do get used to it after a while. Tumblr is different to other sites of the past that this has happened to however and in this post, I will be explaining why this is different for Tumblr and my personal journey with the site.
Fanfiction.net is a perfect example of purges happening to fandoms. Whether certain sites do not wish for explicit content. The site does not allow work with a rating over MA and outright porn without plot fics are technically not allowed on the site, so this has included a lot of yaoi fics. Another reason works can be purged from a fanfiction site is that the owner of the work the fanfiction is based upon does not allow fanfiction to be created of their work. Ever wondered why there is so little Interview with a Vampire fan works out there? Anne Rice is not a fan of fanfiction and has threatened to sue writers and sites that post such work. I and many other authors have lost much of our early works due to purges within fanfiction communities and the fact that when we first started out we did not have the hindsight to back up our work once it was online. It was in these early days of this happening that I and many others turned to save our favorite posts offline and even printed out and stored favorite stories of ours.
Gaia Online and Neopets are perfect examples of communities who over a decade ago went through such purges. Neopets outright banned certain usernames containing words like yaoi and Gaia Online banned all NSFW groups. Sites like Gaia Online and Neopets were always intended as sites for children and as those children grew up the communities within the site would slowly change. Of course, this was not always the case as with any community aimed at children you would get multiple sickos on these kinds of sites that target children for their own disgusting means, sites like these have always been grooming grounds for the sick and twisted to get access to children. Tumblr however, is different to these sites. It was never intended as a site for children, but over the last few years, it seems to have become a playground for them as well as another group that began on the internet.
Launched in February of 2007 as a microblogging and social media platform the site slowly grew into a site where all were welcome and this was even encouraged in the early years and the site became a safe haven for many with many with different tastes to the norm, and many subjects not discussed elsewhere soon became topics of discussion amongst the members of the site. In fact, it was not yaoi or the shipping community that originally brought me to the platform, no it was monster girl ‘artwork’… ok it was outright porn, but it was really well-drawn porn. That’s right I was one of the users who came to the site for the art and the porn, but I stayed because of the communities and friends I made through the site.
Whenever I told people I was a part of the Tumblr community on other sites I would all too often be told, that site is nothing but drama. But if I am completely honest, on the parts of the site and communities I was a part of I saw very little drama. In fact, the only time I ever got into any sort of ‘drama’ was when some of my followers started complaining that I was reblogging hardcore transformers yaoi because they were not into that. I must admit though these complaints just had me rolling my eyes because at the end of the day it was my Tumblr page and I was going to reblog what I wanted to reblog. That is to say, though I was not blind to the drama going on in other sections of the site.
A lot of shipping flame wars have happened over the years on Tumblr from the drama that was Hetalia in its heyday to more recent drama within the Voltron community (a shipping community I will admit I took no part in because and I must confess, I never got into the Voltron series because I did not like the show) and of course if I am going to talk about modern fandom drama I must mention the whole Steven Universe fanart incident. One piece of drama that has not been given nearly as much spotlight, however, was one that disturbed me and many others on the site in recent months.
A growing number of NSFW artists had been getting art commissions and requests from underage users, who were indeed advertising that they were underage. To the point that they had their age stated on their home page, there was also a growing number of underage artists creating explicit NSFW art. I myself came across one such page where the artists stated they were 12 years old! This, of course, brings up a lot of the dangers that I brought up in my post last year, It Should Be Common Sense in the Yaoi Fandom Right? It was because of this growing trend on Tumblr that I came to the decision to write that post. I must admit though, I found myself constantly wondering why the parents or guardians of these children were not monitoring their children’s online activity, yes I said parents and guardians because it is their responsibility to keep an eye on what kids do online, not the sites.
Back when I was under 18 we were not allowed internet in unsupervised parts of the house, now admittedly there was no wifi back then, so as long as the modem was outside the bedrooms this was not an issue, but all our time on the computer was done in areas of the house where a parent would always be watching us. I understand that in this modern age it is hard for parents to monitor everything their child does, but when it comes to online activity there are so many dangers for children.
Child pornography. This is why Tumblr was removed from the Apple store, or at least what they claimed to be the cause. Now I will admit I did come across the occasional shotacon and lolita anime art on the site, but me personally I never came across CP that involved actual children. The laws pertaining on whether or not drawn artwork counts as child exploitation material has been a hot debate in many NSFW communities for years and in many countries including Australia, England and the United States of America such imagery is in fact illegal. So as a yaoi fan I know with many works I am treading a very thin line when it comes to legality. At the end of the day though, Tumblr had to make a business decision concerning the Apple Store because chances are it would not be long till the Google Play store would more than likely make the same decision.
Do I think they rushed the decision to outright ban all NSFW artwork and blogs from the site? Yes, I do, in my opinion, it was like trying to put our a dumpster fire with a kitchen fire extinguisher. Do I think it was a damn stupid decision to use a bot to enforce these new rules? Fucking oath I do, Youtube is a perfect example that these sort of content blocks DO NOT WORK, perfect example the infamous cat killer that still has his channel! While others are fighting tooth and nail to keep their content on the platform! Tumblr making all NSFW banned from its site is a band-aid solution to a bigger problem that was and still is plaguing it and many sites and I am sorry to be that person but that problem is under-age people having access to content they are not supposed to and of parents and guardians expecting these websites to protect their children when at the end of the day it is, in fact, their responsibility.