Tumblr takes action against self-harming blogs

February 23rd, 2012 by | 3 Comments

Image by joshwept

With the social Web’s massive presence and influence on modern pop culture, users have gotten pretty much comfortable in using it for expressing themselves. From microblogs’ short-character platform, down to blogs that are meant for longer content—social media sites have become quite the arena for self expression. Tumblr, for instance, is among the most commonly used sites online. And the different kinds of self expression, the site has taken a stand against the negativity that is coursing through their millions of blogs with a new policy against self-harming blogs.

With over 46,084,355 blogs currently in existence since their launch in 2007, Tumblr has become the blogging choice of millions of people worldwide. And along with countless of posts on the blogging platform that run the gamut from devotions to certain fandoms, fun memes and personal sentiments, the site is well aware of that some of their users are making use of their services for things that are just wrong.

“We are deeply committed to supporting and defending our users’ freedom of speech, but we do draw some limits.” said the post on the official Tumblr Staff Blog.

“As a company, we’ve decided that some specific kinds of content aren’t welcome on Tumblr.

While Tumblr’s Content Policy has indeed been prohibiting spam and identity theft, it has yet to prohibit blogs that actively promote self-harm. Until now as the site gets ready to roll out a new policy that bans blogs that promote eating disorders like anorexia, and bulimia, self-mutilation, and suicide.

In cases like these, two actions are heavily taken into consideration by the site. Here, it is being decided whether self-harming blogs should simply be banned as a statement against the very ideas of self-harm that they are advancing, or allow them to continuously be online but flagged with a public service warning that will direct readers to help lines run by organizations like the National Eating Disorders Association.

And for this, Tumblr is asking for feedback from its millions of users worldwide to renew their content policies, a move that is slated to be done by next week. The following is among the drafted content policy.

1. Implement a new policy against pro-self-harm blogs.
Here’s draft language we are planning to add to our Content Policy:

Active Promotion of Self-Harm. Don’t post content that actively promotes or glorifies self-injury or self-harm. This includes content that urges or encourages readers to cut or mutilate themselves; embrace anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders; or commit suicide rather than, e.g., seek counseling or treatment for depression or other disorders. Online dialogue about these acts and conditions is incredibly important; this prohibition is intended to reach only those blogs that cross the line into active promotion or glorification. For example, joking that you need to starve yourself after Thanksgiving or that you wanted to kill yourself after a humiliating date is fine, but recommending techniques for self-starvation or self-mutilation is not.

2. Start showing PSAs on search results for related keywords.
In addition, we plan to start posting “public service announcement”-style language whenever users search for tags that typically go along with pro-self-harm blogs. For example, when a user searches for tags like “anorexia”, “anorexic”, “bulimia”, “bulimic”, “thinspiration”, “thinspo”, “proana”, “purge”, “purging”, etc., we would show PSA language like:

Eating disorders can cause serious health problems, and at their most severe can even be life-threatening. Please contact the [resource organization] at [helpline number] or [website].

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