Tumblr changed enormously in 2018 after it started blocking all adult content, reportedly because images of child sexual abuse were posted on the website. It deleted tons of sex blogs and communities to comply with its new rule, and its already dwindling community never quite recovered since. Now, the website has updated its community guidelines so that the naked human form is once again allowed. Under its new policy, users can post images and videos with nudity, as well as text with mature subject matter and sexual themes, but they still can't post visual depictions of sexually explicit acts or any content with an overt focus on genitalia.

In its full Community Guidelines page, Tumblr explained that by "visual depictions," it means pictures, videos, GIFs, drawings, CGI and any other kind of visual media. Artwork considered historically significant is an exemption, so long as it's properly labeled. Content with nudity and sexual themes now allowed under the new policy will also have to be labeled so that users can filter them out.

In addition to the continued ban on visual depictions of sexually explicit acts, users can't post links to adult affiliate networks or anything that promotes escort or erotic services. They also aren't allowed to post images with extreme violence and gore or any kind of content that promotes pedophilia, including images of children when the "intent of the blog is sexually suggestive." Any blog that violates those rules will be removed. Tumblr also admits that the list isn't exhaustive and that further interpretation is up to the company.

Tumblr was one of the few sites that not only tolerated but seemingly embraced its sex worker and adult artist communities, so it caught considerable flak when, with little warning, it banned adult content four years ago. Earlier this year, it reached a settlement with New York City's Commission on Human Rights, which found that the ban disproportionately impacted LGBTQ+ users. As part of the settlement terms, Tumblr had to bring in an expert to review its moderation algorithms for potential bias. In September this year, it launched Community Labels with the category "sexual themes," hinting that it was going to loosen its rules and would allow some adult content on the website again. That's exactly what happened, but it doesn't look like Tumblr is open to supporting porn communities anytime soon.

Matt Mullenweg, the CEO of Automattic (the company that now runs Tumblr), explained why in a post on his blog. Credit card companies are anti-porn, he wrote in the post, pointing out that they had cut off payments for advertising on Pornhub. "App stores, particularly Apple's, are anti-porn," he continued. The website can't take a chance when most of its users are on mobile. Tumblr also has no means to ensure that individuals featured in sexually explicit content are of legal age and had consented to being pictured or filmed. "I agree with 'go nuts, show nuts' in principle," he said, "but the casually porn-friendly era of the early internet is currently impossible."

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