Today Tumblr announced a new policy against "self-harm" blogs, leading us to a sad, dark side of Tumblr we never wanted to know existed. From now on, Tumblr will moderate blogs that "glorify or promote anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders; self-mutilation; or suicide," the company explains on their staff blog. The subtext of a change in Tumblr's Content Policy means there are enough of these types of sites to warrant a big public to-do, and it's true we found many examples of such blogs on Tumblr. Here's just a sampling. It's not pretty -- continue at your own discretion (not all are SFW).
Glorified sickly bone structure:
Glorified forced vomiting:
Of course, this type of stuff has existed as far back as the anonymous Internet. (In Time in 2001, Jessica Reaves described the burgeoning trend using retro geocities-esque screengrabs). Tumblr, an easy to use and trendy blog platform, inherits this problem at this particular moment and has chosen a zero-tolerance way of banning it. They write, "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."
In addition to its ban, Tumblr will show public service announcements on search results for related keywords -- a link to the National Eating Disorder Helpline, for example.
Tumblr plans on implementing these policies next week: "If you are found to be in violation of any of the below policies, you will receive a notice via email. Unless you explain or correct your behavior within 72 hours, your account will be suspended." Some people do not approve. From one angry Tumblrer:
I just want everyone who supports tumblrs new policy to realize what Tumblr perceives as a "problem" and what they believe is the "proper way to handle it"
Have a legitimate issue and use tumblr as a way to vent and talk about?
Tumblr: WOAH NO! That’s disgusting and wrong. We best ban you, cause that SURE WILL help you get better.
Others have joined in, calling the policy censorship and a worthless way to "help" people who use these sites as a way to vent. They may have something of a point. But, sadly, given the lengthy history of such content on the Internet, we imagine these folks will simply migrate to another easy-to-use, trendy forum. Pinterest, perhaps?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.