There’s been a lot of uproar the last couple of days as Tumblr has rolled out new “family-friendly” standards that seemingly block LGBTQ tags from searches. Users have complained that tags like “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual” and “transgender” are blocked from some search engines for fear that they’ll turn up NSFW content.
David Karp has since cleared up some of the confusion — basically, words like “gay” and “lesbian” are blocked by default from some mobile apps because they are frequently attached to porn, but this is only a temporary fix until Tumblr figures out another solution. The tag “LGBTQ” is still searchable in all mobile apps, but as this Autostraddle piece explains, that’s not enough.
Those of us who are left have been asked to use the moderated “LGBTQ,” which could force those who don’t like or use that label to accept it as the only way their posts will get exposure. It cripples any subset of the acronym, making it that much harder for queer communities to break down the stereotypes that made “lesbian” synonymous with “hardcore girl-on-girl” in the first place.
Seeing as Tumblr is known particularly for its ability to foster strong communities, it seems counterintuitive to disable some of the most important tools for growing those communities. And with all the lip service queers give to Tumblr, one would think we might get some sort of advanced notice that our tags would be taken away. Instead, we’ve been left to ask questions in the aftermath, meaning many tempers have flared and conclusions been jumped to before Tumblr took the time to tell us what was happening. …
"Wouldn’t it be great if Tumblr users could flag their content themselves?" Abeille asks — and that’s precisely the point. Does Tumblr not trust its users, who frequently dedicate themselves to strengthening communities for everything from fandoms to social justice, to apply that same dedication to flagging content? Can we not be counted on to improve the site we value so much? And, most importantly, can we not count on Tumblr to value each of us in return?
This post happens to have been written by another recent j-school grad and one of my favorite people in the world, Kaitlyn Jakola, who will no doubt be bringing us more internet-centric queer commentary as her Autostraddle career takes off. (Follow her here!) Until then, let’s not keep quiet about this Tumblr nonsense. It’s good that they know we’re pissed off.