Tumblr is censoring over 400 tags from its iOS app to comply with Apple’s App Store rules


Editor’s take: In our increasingly PC-centric society, rules occasionally come along that leave you wondering where common sense went. For the good or the bad, Apple had decided that developers cannot submit certain content to the App Store, nor can apps sold on the platform access said content. But a recent Tumblr update takes caution on the matter to the edge of absurdity.

Tumblr recently updated its iOS app to censor several tags, including “submission,” which Tumblr automatically applies to posts published to a blog. The company explains that the changes were made to comply with Apple’s stricter App Store “sensitive content” rules.

“We want to make sure Tumblr is available everywhere you would like to access it. In order for us to remain in Apple’s App Store and for our Tumblr iOS app to be available, we needed to make changes that would help us be more compliant with their policies around sensitive content.”

Tumblr wants to avoid having explicit content turning up on iPhones as per App Store guidelines. However, the list of terms that cannot be accessed is ridiculously long, and some of the now-banned tags don’t make sense.

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For example, commonly used tags like “selfie,” “me,” and “my face” are now censored. According to one user who has been tracking banned tags, “about,” “repost,” “paint mixing,” and 400+ other words and phrases are also forbidden. Even more curious is the flagging of tags that posters could use to point users to helpful information, like “suicide prevention” and “testicular cancer.” It appears that in its zeal to be cautious, Tumblr is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Because of these changes, Tumblr says that the behavior of its iOS app will potentially change searches, blog access, and the dashboard. Some queries will show less content if many results contain banned tags. Users may even encounter a message (pictured above) saying, “This content has been hidden” if a search does not produce any “safe” results or if a blog is “flagged as explicit.” The “following” and “stuff for you” portions of users’ dashboards may also appear more sparse depending on the content they view and follow.

These changes only apply to the iOS version of the app. So Android devices will remain unaffected. Whether all of the flagged words come from Apple or Tumblr being overly cautious is unclear. Tumblr did not elaborate in its press release, and Apple has not commented on the matter.



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