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Tumblr's 'Safe Mode' Default Is Hurting Adult Content Creators

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Tumblr has been making itself increasingly less friendly to the adult content creators. First, in June 2017, the platform introduced Safe Mode, a feature that displays a filter on images that are considered “sensitive” by Tumblr, which mostly means nudity, whether it’s for artistic or educational purposes. Even back in 2012, Tumblr enacted its “Safe Search” function, which de-listed adult content from search engines and Tumblr’s internal search.

Now, Tumblr has turned Safe Mode into the default setting for users, a setting that used to be an opt-in feature. Within the next few weeks, the platform will be implementing the setting as the default mode. On Sunday, Tumblr sent out an email to its users over 18 years old saying that they wanted to “make sure everyone has the chance to try it out,” however the email didn’t explicitly state that it would be turned on by default.

“Over the next couple weeks, you might see some things in your dashboard getting filtered,” the email reads. “If you like it that way, that’s great. If you don’t, no problem. You can go back by turning off Safe Mode any time.”

As Motherboard aptly points out, Safe Mode features seem somewhat counterintuitive to platforms built with the idea that anything goes. TechCrunch reported that Tumblr’s adult content not only accounts for more than 20 percent of the site’s clicks on desktop, but it’s also the top category on the site.

One anonymous blogger told Motherboard, “All this [Safe Mode update] does is make adult content even less visible INSIDE the walled garden that adult Tumblr has already become… Tumblr is dead media as far as I’m concerned, from an adult-industry perspective.”