Tumblr’s New Algorithm Flags Jesus, Bigfoot As Porn


Celine Ryan Contributor
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Images of Christ, superheroes, and even Bigfoot are reportedly getting caught up in Tumblr’s new “adult content” ban.

After concern that purveyors of child porn were flocking to the platform, the social media site announced Monday that any and all sexually explicit content would be banned beginning Dec. 17. This announcement defined “adult content” as “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.”

Tumblr informed its users that if their content was flagged as inappropriate, they would receive an email notice and the post in question would be set to a private mode, so that it would only be visible to the posting user.

However, in just a few short days after this announcement, it has become apparent to many that Tumblr’s tools for identifying this type of content are not quite honed enough to tell the difference between general images of humans and sexual images.

Users are complaining that almost any image that includes the human form is susceptible to being flagged. Instances reported by The Guardian include a painting of Christ, a photo of some ballet dancers in costume, artwork depicting superheroes Wonder Woman and Harley Quinn.

Other flagged posts highlighted by users Thursday morning include a photoset of one user cuddling with various dogs, and a drawing of Bigfoot.

One user expressed concerns of “censorship” after a meme he posted that poked fun at the overzealous flagging was itself flagged. (RELATED: Cancer Awareness Group Draws Square Breasts For Video After Facebook Censors It)

“We know there will be mistakes,” said Tumblr CEO Jeff D’Onofrio in a statement Tuesday. He acknowledged that distinguishing sexual nudity from non-sexual nudity “is not simple at scale,” but did not mention any possibility of images of fully clothed humans getting caught up in the mix.

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