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Tumblr Launched An Algorithm To Flag Porn And So Far It's Just Caused Chaos

Along with Monday's announcement that Tumblr will soon ban pornographic content, the website launched an algorithm to flag inappropriate posts. It didn't go well.

Posted on December 4, 2018, at 6:54 a.m. ET

So on Monday, Tumblr announced that, starting Dec. 17, posts that contain "adult content" will be banned.

In an update to the site's community guidelines, Tumblr now asks users not to upload any content that shows "real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples — this includes content that is so photorealistic that it could be mistaken for featuring real-life humans," or "any content, including images, videos, GIFs, or illustrations, that depicts sex acts."

As part of this crackdown, Tumblr has employed an algorithm to spot and flag pornographic content.

"Filtering this type of content versus say, a political protest with nudity or the statue of David, is not simple at scale," Tumblr said. "We’re relying on automated tools to identify adult content and humans to help train and keep our systems in check. We know there will be mistakes, but we’ve done our best to create and enforce a policy that acknowledges the breadth of expression we see in the community."

However, soon after the announcement and the deployment of said algorithm, people began to notice random, nonsexual posts of theirs being flagged.

People began going through their old posts to see what was deemed inappropriate.

I just went through the 12 most recent pages of my Tumblr archive and these were the only three photos flagged. Two photos of me fully clothed and a picture of my vase ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ https://t.co/dUG5K8lbCy

so I've just had a look through my archive to see what's been flagged and *entirely* predictably, Tumblr's new porn filter is working *very well* https://t.co/rJomXdde0z

i got flagged!!! 😱 good job, tumblr 👉😎👉 gotta catch that dangerous "adult" content

More worryingly, a lot of very personal posts regarding sexual identity or personal confessions were being flagged.

The flagging was so widespread and incoherent that many turned it into a meme.

According to multiple users, one of Tumblr's own posts was also apparently flagged.

Due to the chaos, a number of users pledged to move their content over to other platforms.

This can only get better, right?

The Tumblr porn filter looking at a photo of steak and chips on a plate

BuzzFeed News has contacted Tumblr for comment.

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