Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you have undoubtably heard the news that Tumblr is not longer allowing nudity or sexually explicit images on its site. More than likely if you are reading this blog you were directly affected by this policy shift. I know I was. Tumblr was far and away my biggest audience when it came to social media with well over ten-thousand followers. That’s not a lot when compared to many artists and content providers out there but for me ti was significant. It is probably for that reason that this latest wave of internet censorship has got me thinking about the state of the world wide web as we get ever closer to the year 2020.
The official press release and policy change issued by Tumblr describes adult content as such…
Adult content primarily includes photos, videos, or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples, and any content—including photos, videos, GIFs and illustrations—that depicts sex acts.
When I read Tumblr’s statement my mind floats back to the early days of the internet. I very much embraced the internet at its inception because I felt like it was a place where artists such as myself could express a vision without restrictions. I spent a lot of time in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s being rejected by art galleries and publications out of fear that depictions of the human body would cost them sales and be offensive to the general public. The internet felt like a place where I could rise above all of that pettiness and in some ways that turned out to be true in the early years. Or at least I felt that way. I don’t ever recall photoshopping blurry squares over nipples before I posted anything on-line back then at least.
As the internet has become more essential to everyday life it also seems to have become a much smaller place. More and more users aren’t carving out their own little corners of the virtual world but are instead cramming themselves into a few platforms like Facebook and Tumblr. Google is more or less the gatekeeper of everything and the ability to be anonymous is few and far between. Many artists and models that I know personally don’t even have their own website and rely exclusively on social media to share the fruits of their creative labor. As such, artists, models, adult content creators, and even writers are increasingly at the mercy of censorship and outdated social norms around issues of nudity and human sexuality. Every single major social media platform has heavy restrictions against depictions of nudity and most outright ban it completely. Artists, model, pornographers, and more have been given a message loud and clear. We aren’t wanted. Read More