All, we’ve heard from a bunch of you who are concerned about Tumblr censoring NSFW/adult content. While there seems to be a lot of misinformation flying around, most of the confusion seems to stem from our complicated flagging/filtering features. Let me clear up (and fix) a few things:

1. Last year, we added “Safe Mode” which lets you filter out NSFW content from tag and search pages. This is enabled by default for new users and can be toggled in your Dashboard Settings. As some of you have pointed out, disabling Safe Mode still wasn’t allowing search results from all blogs to appear. This has been fixed.

2. Some search terms are blocked (returning no results) in some of our mobile apps. Unfortunately, different app environments have different requirements that we do our best to adhere to. The reason you see innocent tags like #gay being blocked on certain platforms is that they are still frequently returning adult content which our entire app was close to being banned for. The solution is more intelligent filtering which our team is working diligently on. We’ll get there soon. In the meantime, you can browse #lgbtq — which is moderated by our community editors — in all of Tumblr’s mobile apps. You can also see unfiltered search results on using your mobile web browser.

3. Earlier this year, in an effort to discourage some not-so-nice people from using Tumblr as free hosting for spammy commercial porn sites, we started delisting this tiny subset of blogs from search engines like Google. This was never intended to be an opt-in flag, but for some reason could be enabled after checking off NSFW → Adult in your blog settings. This was confusing and unnecessary, so we’ve dropped the extra option. If your blog contains anything too sexy for the average workplace, simply check “Flag this blog as NSFW” so people in Safe Mode can avoid it. Your blog will still be promoted in third-party search engines.

Aside from these fixes, there haven’t been any recent changes to Tumblr’s treatment of NSFW content, and our view on the topic hasn’t changed. Empowering your creative expression is the most important thing in the world to us. Making sure people aren’t surprised by content they find offensive is also incredibly important and we are always working to put more control in your hands.

Sorry for all of the confusion. If you have any more concerns or suggestions on how we can make these features clearer or more useful, please email us!


This was Tumblr Staff’s response to a 20,000 signature petition in 2013 to stop exactly what’s going on right now. Tumblr Staff, with David Karp at the head, clarified these things and put these guidelines into place to ensure that the site would remain safe and they would continue to allow NSFW content.


Cut to 5 years later we have literally 10 times as many people signing a petition right now in less than ¼th the amount of time for the exact same reason


Tumblr, we made this clear before and now 10 times as many people are making it clear again: You’re handling this in the wrong way.

You should be focusing on improving features like Safe Mode, the tagging system, blacklisting, whitelisting, filtering, blocking, reporting, etc.

Rather than deciding that destroying the foundation you’ve built and garnered for 11 years as a place where NSFW artists can easily get their work out there.

And would you look at that, this post itself has like a million notes.