Is Tumblr Poised for a Return?

Is Tumblr Poised for a Return?

I have a photographer friend who consistently gets flagged on Instagram for posting images which violate Instagram’s terms of usage. The reasoning: he photographs mostly nudes.

Now, the philosophical and legal argument might get long and convoluted quickly. Sure, he has freedom of speech and freedom of expression, but ultimately, you give them up when you agree to use a particular platform. Which often leaves me wondering why he doesn’t move to a platform which is more inclusive (or perhaps more inclusive of the types of images he makes).

The way I’ve told this story makes it sound like an insulated instance between one photographer and Instagram. But that is not entirely the case. I know hundreds of photographers and can recount this narrative dozens of times.

This zealous censorship is also present on Meta’s other platforms, including Facebook. Add to this a flood of ads, and it makes for a social media experience we all engage in, but don’t entirely love.

Over the last few months, Twitter seemed like a very viable alternative as a place to share photography. But, for anyone who has been on Twitter recently, Twitter is all chaos ever since you-know-who bought it.

Sure, I could list dozens of other apps, but for the social aspect of social media to work, there needs to be a community already present. No one wants to talk into the wind. Additionally, for a photography social media app to work, the navigation to share imagery needs to be simple and at the forefront of the app.

Tumblr Addresses Problems of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

Recently, Tumblr announced that it would now allow “…a broader range of expression, creativity, and art on Tumblr, including content depicting the human form (yes, that includes the naked human form)”. What they won’t allow is, “nudity, mature subject matter, or sexual themes”.

But hear me out, perhaps Tumblr is the next big, happy middle ground for all of us? Most of us who grew up on the internet likely already have community there. The platform, for the most part, is intuitive and advertisement free. And almost equally importantly, the navigation to share images is not only very streamlined, but in fact, the platform itself forefronts image-based media.

The thing with any platform is that it can change at the whim of those who run it. In fact, as demonstrated, that has been the case multiple times over. Recently, I have only lurked around a bit on Tumblr myself, but it is an option for those looking for something else. It might be a bit too early to have a more concrete opinion, but is this option akin to returning to that ex we broke up with once upon a time, or will it cause a rush of all the memories and reasons of why we left in the first place?

I don’t actually know. But, sometimes, people do change, and it’s often worth giving them that second chance to see how they’ve grown.

Ali Choudhry's picture

Ali Choudhry is a photographer in Australia. His photographic practice aims to explore the relationship with the self, between the other, and the world. Through use of minimalist compositions and selective use of color and form he aims to invoke what he calls the "breath". He is currently working towards a BA (Honours) in Photography.

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Please don't. The beauty of Tumblr is that it's not commercialized. People post for the fun of it. They're not there to go viral and make a bunch of money, they just want to be happy little trash pandas. Don't kill one of the last few commercial-free places on the internet.

These are all valid points: Tumblr isn't commercialized and is much more democratic and non-hierarchical than other platforms. I agree completely.
But having more users, surely, wouldn't kill it?

More users is good. More users moving in to do the same old commercialized influencer schtick isn't.

Whenever I think Tumblr, I think just a bunch of random flip-phone and gif posts.

You're better off on Twitter than Tumblr. If you stick to photography related content, or any content not related to politics, you'll be fine.

Being apolitical is, in itself, a political stance; and one I find difficult to take.

That makes no sense. No one is saying you need to give up or make your stance. Here's an example, my siblings are crazy political on both sides. So, on our family get togethers, we have a rule, "no politics". There's a time and place for it. Family time is not one of them.

So, same can be said about Twitter. I mean, if you want to get triggered or sucked into it, that's on you. it doesn't have to be that way. I have a Twitter List of photography and modeling accounts that I bookmark (on computer). That's my default link to Twitter so I can bypass anything else. Then, if I want to engage in some chaos (lol), I click on Home feed and let fun begin.

Tumblr has been all but gutted for anything related to "adult" content after the Verizon buy.

Flickr, however, actually allows nudity on the platform (as a Pro member to post, but free users can view) -- and Pro subscriptions are Ad-free too.