Tumblr blocks 'hundreds' of search terms in latest iOS update

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in iOS
As of the new Tumblr 22.5.1 on iOS, the app is rejecting search terms ranging from "bald," to "selfie," in what may be an attempt to satisfy Apple's App Store requirements.




Neither Apple nor Tumblr have stated that the app's changes are to do with iOS App Store requirements. However, Tumblr has said that, "beginning in version 22.5.1, sensitive content is hidden" in the app.

In each case, searching for a seemingly sensitive word or phrase results in an error message. That message can vary, however.

A search for the word "bald" returned an error saying, "that search was weird and we didn't really 'get' it." Searching for "selfie" instead returned "This content has been hidden."

That message added "the content has been hidden because of potentially suggestive or explicit content."

Oddly, other terms more obviously likely to return explicit content are not presently blocked. One such word can be seen in the header of the new Tumblr blog Banned Tags, which first began listing the blocked search words.

The list is presented as an attached Google Doc, so that the list itself isn't blocked by the same search filters.

"Banned Tags" makes the point that the list isn't complete, and also that Tumblr may change any search result at any time.

Note, too, that this is specific to Tumblr 22.5.1, and presumably later, on iOS. Using the Tumblr website on macOS does not feature the same blocks. Although certain words, such as "bald," simply return no results.

Presuming that this is in order to satisfy Apple's requirements, it's probable that Tumblr is intentionally over-doing the words it bans. In 2018, Tumblr was temporarily axed from the App Store for reportedly failing to adequately prevent child pornography being uploaded.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    As of the new Tumblr 22.5.1 on iOS, the app is rejecting search terms ranging from "bald," to "selfie,". 

    In 2018, Tumblr was temporarily axed from the App Store for reportedly failing to adequately prevent child pornography being uploaded. 
    I REALLY fail to see the connection between „bald“ and child pornography. Wtf. Is „bald“ a bad word now? I‘m I old for not recognizing its deeply offensive nature?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 11
    The whole thing is unclear -- since Twitter, Reddit, Discord, and other apps can render adult content to the user. This of course is also true of Firefox, Chrome, Edge, and...Safari. So I'm not sure what the logical distinction is between these native apps and the optional adult content they can display.

    What I've heard before was it's a matter of where the binaries are stored & served from -- in the case of websites, they come from third-party web servers, not the app-maker's server. I'm not sure where that puts Twitter or Reddit. I think Reddit images & videos are from other servers (ex: Imgur.com) so maybe they're in the clear for the same reason. I'm not sure what Tumblr does with its binaries.
  • Reply 3 of 11
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,755moderator
    hucom2000 said:
    As of the new Tumblr 22.5.1 on iOS, the app is rejecting search terms ranging from "bald," to "selfie,". 

    In 2018, Tumblr was temporarily axed from the App Store for reportedly failing to adequately prevent child pornography being uploaded. 
    I REALLY fail to see the connection between „bald“ and child pornography. Wtf. Is „bald“ a bad word now? I‘m I old for not recognizing its deeply offensive nature?
    There's not always a connection but terms are misused online - bald isn't always used to mean head hair - and these terms are used to tag images. If you for example visit https://www.tumblr.com and search for beard, you'll likely want to clear your browser history. Do the same for "single dad" and there's nsfw content in there.

    Apple has guidelines about safety:

    https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/#safety

    Their wording allows them to have fairly subjective rulings on anything. It's their store and anything they find distasteful will be removed. Tumblr was a well known pornographic image host and they removed most of it with changes of owners but even though they have tried to clean it up, many of their users clearly mislabel content on purpose.

    Although other apps have nsfw content, the more popular ones tend to hide it pretty well by default.
    muthuk_vanalingamhucom2000watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 11
    Thanks, Apple, for keeping me from going blind for seeing somethin' I shouldn't. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 5 of 11
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,156member
    This makes Apple look puritanical and ridiculous.
    kingofsomewherehotcuriousrun8
  • Reply 6 of 11
    I thought Tumblr banned adult content a while ago. Did I miss something?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 11
    Epitome of absurdity!!! Some of the words banned: ‘Girl’, ‘Sad’, ‘ Me’, ‘ Big’ ….!!! are these considered offensive now ???🤯🤯🤯 I guess language as a whole is offensive and should be banned too.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 11
    Epitome of absurdity!!! Some of the words banned: ‘Girl’, ‘Sad’, ‘ Me’, ‘ Big’ ….!!! are these considered offensive now ???🤯🤯🤯 I guess language as a whole is offensive and should be banned too.
    Yes, that's the reason Chicken Little, ffs.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 11
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,156member
    Epitome of absurdity!!! Some of the words banned: ‘Girl’, ‘Sad’, ‘ Me’, ‘ Big’ ….!!! are these considered offensive now ???🤯🤯🤯 I guess language as a whole is offensive and should be banned too.
    You've missed the point somewhat, it's not that the words are offensive, it's that they're used as keywords to the kind of content that Apple don't want Tumblr to show.  Tumblr doesn't have all that much choice in the matter if they want to stay on the App Store because Apple are are a prudish lot. 

    Just slap an 18+ restriction on the app and let them be.
    kingofsomewherehot
  • Reply 10 of 11
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,577member
    crowley said:
    Epitome of absurdity!!! Some of the words banned: ‘Girl’, ‘Sad’, ‘ Me’, ‘ Big’ ….!!! are these considered offensive now ???ߤﰟ䯰勞 I guess language as a whole is offensive and should be banned too.
    You've missed the point somewhat, it's not that the words are offensive, it's that they're used as keywords to the kind of content that Apple don't want Tumblr to show.  Tumblr doesn't have all that much choice in the matter if they want to stay on the App Store because Apple are are a prudish lot. 

    Just slap an 18+ restriction on the app and let them be.
    That's a wrong assumption. Since 2018, Tumblr has implemented a no adult content on their platform policy and have work in removing such contents when reported or detected by their scanning software. If Tumblr could do what they claim they want to do and get it done, then Tumblr wouldn't have to do a thing to be in the Apple App Store. All they would need to do is follow their own "prudish" policy. 

    https://9to5mac.com/2018/12/03/tumblr-adult-content/

    One could be as young as13 to open a Tumblr account.  Wouldn't you think it should be up to Trumblr to somehow prevent their minor account holders from accessing adult content, if their site contained a lot of easily accessible adult content?

    https://tumblr.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360003018754-Your-Age-on-Tumblr

    On the lighter side, Apple using AI to search for popular words and phrases of people searching for porn (and specially child porn) and tags on porn (and child porn) images is what led to this list. No matter how ridiculous the list or banned search words like "bald" seems, they are common terms and tags used in porn and child porn, according to Apple AI, not by "prudish" Apple employees. This would most likely be similar to the method of how Apple would use AI to scan for adult content in the iMessages of minor users and notify the parent if adult content is detected. I can see how a parent can get a notice of possible adult content being downloaded by their kid, only to find their kid downloaded a picture of Bruce Willis or Jeff Bezo, while searching for "bald celebrity". But there are still people that think using AI to scan minors iMessages for adult content, is a good idea. Crying ...... "Think of the children" or "People against this are supporting child predators." 
    edited December 2021 watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 11
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 410member
    I have no problem with it. There is no right to publish on a platform. If someone wants this dirt they will have to use a web browser. People can complain about App content and blame/sue Apple for it, whereas web browsers are the Wild West and expected to be that. Apple does not have a dog in that content. 
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