Tumblr banned these words to meet Apple’s safety standards – Quartz



A bald, single dad with a beard should be careful not to post a selfie on Tumblr. As of December 21, there are at least four different ways for Tumblr to block access to its blog post, in order to comply with the strict security standards Apple maintains for all apps in its App Store.

Tumblr now limits the ability of users to search for posts tagged “bald,” “single dad,” “beard,” and “selfie,” among hundreds of other keywords, for fear of violating company safety standards. Apple. In a December 21 update, the developers at Tumblr said they were broadening “the definition of what sensitive content is and how you access it in order to comply with [Apple’s] guidelines. ”They noted that some search queries may generate fewer results than usual, and others“ might produce no results at all. ”

Apple’s security policy states that iOS applications “must not include content that is offensive, callous, upsetting, intended to disgust, in very bad taste or just plain frightening”, and goes on to detail specific prohibitions on porn, gore, hate speech, content that encourages self-harm, and so on.

Tumblr was once launched on the App Store in 2018 when child pornography was found on the site; Although Tumblr has had a habit of taking a laissez-faire approach to pornography on the platform, it has responded to Apple’s ban by abruptly banning all adult content, sparking outcry from female workers at the platform. sex and other adult and consenting users.

With its latest change, Tumblr seems to have taken a very broad interpretation of Apple’s rules. A Tumblr user who runs a blog called Bannistags compiled a list of at least 446 tags that Tumblr prevented from appearing in search results, based on his own attempts to search for words on the iOS app. In addition to blocking obviously heavy words like “penis,” “cocaine,” and “blood,” Tumblr also appears to ban harmless words like “girl”, “sad”, and “me”.

The bizarre list of blocked terms highlights the inordinate power a few large tech companies have to regulate the content moderation policies of app developers. Apple and Google, which operate the world’s two smartphone operating systems, can set any rules they want about what kind of apps they’ll allow on their platforms. Apple, Google and Amazon, which operate AWS, one of the world’s largest web hosting services, demonstrated regulation earlier this year by banning Speak, which forced the right-wing social media app to change leadership and usher in a series of new content moderation practices.

A sample of the forbidden words from Tumblr

The Tumblr user who compiled the blocked words list pointed out that it is not exhaustive and may change over time. But here are some of his weirder entries, at the time of publication:

  • On
  • About me
  • ACAB (short for “all cops are bastards”, an anti-police rallying cry)
  • Alec Lightwood (a fictional character from The Shadowhunters series)
  • Alice May (the actress who plays Peppa Pig?)
  • Responded (a tag that lets people know this post is a response to a question submitted through Tumblr’s “ask” function)
  • Anxiety
  • Bald
  • Beard
  • Big
  • Depression
  • Lying down
  • Eli speaks (a motivational speaker?)
  • Eugene Levy (an actor known for his roles in Schitt’s Creek and American Pie, among other shows and films)
  • Girl
  • Heels
  • Insomnia
  • Kim Doyeon (Kpop singer)
  • Long message
  • Me
  • To exploit
  • My face
  • My life
  • My pictures
  • My message
  • My stuff
  • My thing
  • My video
  • My voice
  • Queue (a tag used to notify people that a post has been scheduled using Tumblr’s “queue” feature)
  • Reblog
  • Repost
  • Sad
  • Self
  • Auto-Reciprocate
  • selfie
  • Single dad
  • Single mother
  • Single parent
  • Break
  • Submission (a Tumblr tag is automatically applied to posts that have been submitted to a blog)
  • Tagged
  • Testicular cancer
  • Tony the Tiger (the Frosted Flakes cartoon mascot)
  • True crime
  • Upset
  • 1k (a tag sometimes used to celebrate reaching 1,000 subscribers)


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