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That choice boggles the mind.

If you're worried about cross-links between non-adult and adult content tarnishing the platform, add better features for user flagging.

They (before the Yahoo and Verizon cluster&#-1s) were essentially sitting on a gold mine of training data, and ongoing training data generation, for an industry-leading porn detection engine.

A subscription filtering product that would be worth $$$.

Throwing that away because of some overly prudish concept of brand identity is hilarious.




Well remember what actually happened. Apple removed their app! That's a bigger problem in general (I think at some point, legislators will need to force Apple to allow 3rd party installs without jailbreaking a phone).

Tumblr had issues with jailbait and childporn. Even with a lot of moderation and policing, it was difficult to keep under control. As an interesting consequence, people who use scripts to rip entire blogs, may have underage selfies and other pics they're not even aware of. It's a strict liability crime in the US, so even having huge Tumblr dumps can be risky!

There were a lot of factors involved in the censorship, and it makes me thing the future of the open web needs to be more federated/distributed. Sites like Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook need to lose relevance.


> Tumblr had issues with jailbait and childporn. Even with a lot of moderation and policing, it was difficult to keep under control.

That's because they had crappy design:

* How does one report a post? Click the share button (I'm not clicking something labeled share on child porn).

* Can moderators delete posts and the comment chain that allows for coordination? Nope, just the images.

Doesn't matter how moderation one does if the tools aren't there.


Apple specifically removed it for child porn, and once Tumblr took care of that (before removing adult content in general), Apple added them back to the store.


Taking care of it on an ongoing basis might have been too great a burden for the (assumedly-understaffed) team, or they had too few tools to deal with it and no incentive or manpower to create new ones that worked with the existing adult content system.

Simply banning adult content en masse allows them to use heuristics to identify nudtiy and genitalia in images.

Previously, they would have had to make a judgment call on whether those depicted were of adult age. By banning all of it, they no longer have the responsibility to make that choice.


> or they had too few tools to deal with it

That wasn’t the case. They had the industry standard tools (PhotoDNA + partnership with NCMEC), but I can’t say how well they were being maintained at the time of the situation with Apple.


And at the time, HN roasted Apple pretty roundly for the decision: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18494137

There was some great snark about Safari being next on the ban list.


The thing is, a naked 17-year-old and a naked 18-year-old look fairly similar. One is a felony; one is not. It would be evry difficult to distinguish between them. Apple probably wanted to head off the outrage which some person would drum up, and passed to tumbler. Tumbler figured it was easier to classify all inappropriate content, as there's no real way to classify something so fuzzy with the requisite accuracy.


Other porn sites with user contributed content exist. This is not as big a problem as you make it out to be. Not to the extent that a big company like Automattic wouldn't be able to solve it and keep that quite profitable interest group on board. The reason they won't is because they don't like to go against the grain of the currently advertiser-mandated vision of an exclusively family-friendly internet — where 'internet' here means the ad-supported part of it; i.e., all of the bigger commercial content silos.

The outrage comes when people stumble upon photos of minors in the early pubescent or even prepubescent stage of development intended to titillate. That is, content that is fairly consistently classed as child pornography, and no apparent action is undertaken to purge that content.

> […] as there's no real way to classify something so fuzzy with the requisite accuracy.

For the odd case where an account is uploading content that looks like it might involve a minor nearing adulthood, a platform privately and confidentially asking for proof of identity and age is reasonable enough. It's a fair solution for, to name just one example, the odd flat-chested twenty-something exhibitionist of Asian descent.


> sites with user contributed content exist.

Very true, but there's a notable distinction: they can devote 100% of their expertise to moderating such nuances. It would be costly for a company such as tumbler (one which is not built around inappropriate material) to build out and maintain such expertise.

> The reason they won't is because they don't like to go against the grain of the currently advertiser-mandated vision of an exclusively family-friendly internet — where 'internet' here means the ad-supported part of it; i.e., all of the bigger commercial content silos.

Are you surprised this is the case? What brand wants to be associated with that sort of stuff?

> The outrage comes when people stumble upon photos of minors in the early pubescent or even prepubescent stage of development intended to titillate. That is, content that is fairly consistently classed as child pornography, and no apparent action is undertaken to purge that content.

There have been quite a few instances of prosecuting minors due to sending pictures of inappropriate content, taken by themselves: https://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2010/03/21/is-sexting-c...

> For the odd case where an account is uploading content that looks like it might involve a minor nearing adulthood, a platform privately and confidentially asking for proof of identity and age is reasonable enough. It's a fair solution for, to name just one example, the odd flat-chested twenty-something exhibitionist of Asian descent.

I'm sure there was a more polite way to phrase that. Regardless, much of the internet consists of downloading and re-uploading media. This would remain difficult.


>Other porn sites with user contributed content exist.

I bet that those sites also hosts vast amounts of illegal material as well. The law isn't fully enforced because doing so would have so many people arrested that it would lead to invalidating the law.

As you said, the outrage doesn't really exists in those hard to tell cases, but the law isn't written to align with the outrage. So the content is largely ignored unless a specific case happens to get popular attention.

Overall the standards are about as sane as our standards around other similar topics, which is to say not at all.


> That choice boggles the mind.

Serving ads is hard when there's porn on the site.


If you've got porn on a domain, it doesn't matter if you show ads on porn or not, it doesn't matter if you require age verification, nothing you do will likely matter.

What if there was a way to "ban" something by changing it's domain? What if there were two web apps with a linked backend? Let's say:

    tumblargh.com
    tumblarghR.com
When something is "banned" from tumblargh.com, it remains on tumblarghR.com, which is otherwise a mirror of tumblargh.com.


isn't this what 4chan did with 4channel.org?


4chan split into two sites because PayPal stopped working on the main domain, but similar idea.


How about Imgur? And Reddit?


Reddit runs its own ad network.

And has famously had issues monetizing itself.


Partially. Reddit also has the usual DoubleClick/Adsense ads too.


That boggles the mind as well. The purpose of an ad is to be seen. Whether it's seen next to porn should be irrelevant.

I guess, because prudery.


>Whether it's seen next to porn should be irrelevant.

It does not work that way. If some average person sees some brand advertised on WSJ and FT, and another competing brand on PornHub he will attach more 'premium' value to a first brand, and will pay more for owning product from this brand. It's only normal and a part of human nature.

People enjoy content from PornHub, but they want to be associated with something advertised on WSJ/FT/NYT/etc. People want to signal status, not just own a good stuff.


>It does not work that way. If some average person sees some brand advertised on WSJ and FT, and another competing brand on PornHub he will attach more 'premium' value to a first brand, and will pay more for owning product from this brand.

That doesn't explain the connection of "porn" with "less than premium". You call it "normal and part of human nature" but looks like totally cultural.

Historical prudery, and a past that associated looking at adult content with "low status", lesser citizens (and not what the "proper people do", does explain it.

(While we of course know that people of all statuses and walks of life look at porn, from the industrialist, to the bank executive, to the judge).

>People enjoy content from PornHub, but they want to be associated with something advertised on WSJ/FT/NYT/etc.

I'd understand it if we were talking about high status ads, yaugt ads, hi-fi ads, expensive clothes ads, and so on. But most people don't read or care for WSJ/FT/NYT -- that's a small minority. Most people read magazines just as popular/mass market as People, Reader's Digest, CNN, FOX, USA Today and the like, and advertisers have no issue advertising at those.


There is still massive stigma around consuming porn. Less than half of Americans think that watching porn is morally acceptable. https://news.gallup.com/poll/235280/americans-say-pornograph...

Brands don't want to be next to content that has that stigma.


The people with that stigma aren't going to be looking at that content anyway.


They think it's immoral but they definitely still look at that content. For advertisers it's about brand perception and not appearing next to immoral content.


No, but they will gladly indulge in a bit of pitchfork-and-torchery when someone shares a screenshot on Facebook of a Proctor & Gamble ad for baby powder next to a young woman with pigtails and tube socks in the questionably named 'teen' category getting spit roasted.


Oh yeah, nobody would do something they say is immoral, especially when it comes to sex.


> people want to signal status

People are biological animals first and humans at a distant second. It's short-sighted to so brazenly dismiss the long term effects of periodically associating a brand with the strong feelings that come with an orgasm.


>From my experience in dealing with very rich and very poor people of many different cultures, the only people who give a damn about status to that extent are the young and dumb

Sorry, you are mostly wrong here.

Let me present you with example of an ad targeted to 50+ very rich audience. This is an ad directed by Cohen brothers ("Big Lebowski", "No Country For Old Men", etc) advertising Mercedes AMG Roadster and shown during SuperBowl -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exxaJrtH2kg -- and pay attention to a punchline -- "still looking good". Pure signaling for an older folks.

This may sound illogical, but most people who buy "signaling" products (such as Mercedes AMG Roadster) are in +40 y.o. cohort. They got money to spend, unlike millenials who can only signal status while choosing craft beer on Friday evening.

Also, your guess about me living in my "pristine little bubble" was too personal, tbh, but I'm fine with that. No offense taken here.


> Let me present you with example of an ad targeted to 50+ very rich audience. This is an ad directed by Cohen brothers ("Big Lebowski", "No Country For Old Men", etc) advertising Mercedes AMG Roadster and shown during SuperBowl

These concepts are not mutually exclusive concepts:

- targeting a group of people that are 50+ years old

- for the people that actually buy the cars to be vain, young and dumb, and insecure.

> This may sound illogical, but most people who buy "signaling" products (such as Mercedes AMG Roadster) are in +40 y.o. cohort.

That's not illogical at all; that's mainly who I see in Porsche dealerships and nothing about that contradicts what I said. In that individual statement, I was merely commenting on the set of people who care about their things being associated with a porn advertisement, not the intersection of people who care about status to that extent and have money to signal their status.

> Also, your guess about me living in my "pristine little bubble" was too personal, tbh, but I'm fine with that. No offense taken here.

It was, I'm sorry about that and I've removed it; Frankly, I am frustrated and probably overly sensitive (to the point of false positives) to the trend I noticed in the Bay area where people who couldn't be bothered to leave their home/tech bubble and interact with people outside their comfort zone, remarking on how people the world over work. Their abstractions are incredibly wrong if you just go 50 miles outside the bay area.

Due to having family and their friends spread out over the world and due to having a remote job, I've seen and lived with people of diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds; the Bay rarely understands any of those people except those in their bubble and despite that, it's not uncommon for them to speak with authority on them; I find that audacity infuriating and is something I need to work on.


>That's not illogical at all, that's mainly who I see in Porsche dealerships and nothing about that contradicts what I said.

I don't know, I think signaling is OK, and I don't consider people why buy signaling products as "vain dumb and insecure". I just don't see that anything wrong with that. I mean, you made enough money to choose good, quality product, be that t-shirt, bike or even a car. Why not choose some premium brand with some signaling attached to that, instead of just buying generic nike t-shirt or toyota corolla car? If you like that Mercedes AMG Roadster because you think that it will make you more attractive to chicks (and btw it will, I guarantee) -- and you got money to spare, well, go for it! You made enough money to buy Porsche 911, why drive Honda Civic then?

I see people signaling with their choices wrt premium products, and I don't judge them at all.

>Frankly, I am frustrated with a common trend I noticed in the Bay area where people who couldn't be bothered to leave their home/tech bubble and interact with people outside their comfort zone

I've never visited USA in my life, and do not plan to, so your guess about me being SF resident living in SF bubble is wrong. :) I do work in ad-tech / advertising, though, so I learned something about how industry works. JIC, during my daily commute (I don't own a car and use public transit) I see more people who make $500/month than people who make $5000/month, so no bubble here. :)


I'm not saying signaling is wrong; I'm saying to the EXTENT that someone cares so much that they wouldn't buy it because there may be porn associated alongside it, is a symptom of being in the set of vain, insecure, and young and dumb people.

I own a Porsche, I couldn't care less who they are advertising to so long as it doesn't hurt anyone. Moreover, I've learned with anything that attracts that much attention, it's not signaling any kind of attention you would want. I get really annoying attention, on a daily basis. If it wasn't for the tears of joy that I get from driving it down twisties, I would sell it in a heartbeat.

From my perspective as someone in the 1% of my age group and was apart of the set of young and dumb, vain and insecure people, signaling with expensive items is childishly overrated; it's far more fruitful to signal with kindness, compassion and intellect; any trust fund baby can afford a porsche and be as vapid as anyone else.


Well, I get that you want the world to function in a slightly different way, and you don't want people to associate advertised product to content around it; I'm fine with that. However, the world around us functions in a way where people subconsciously associate the product and content.

This is, in fact, a billion dollar opportunity -- ads on porn sites are so abundant and so cheap, first person who will help sell more premium product by advertising it on porn sites will become a billionaire. Not happened yet, and most porn sites advertise, well, other porn sites. There might be a reason for that (and it's not a hidden cabal of puritans who run marketing departments of well-known brands being haters of porn. trust me, those folks will sell their souls to the devil for 10% uptick in sales).


It's not that I want the world to function in that way, it's that sex is such a fundamental part of our biological nature that I believe it supersedes any human abstractions we place over our animal nature; to the extent where, the unworkable symbiosis you posited, of porn associated with the advertising of well known brands, is wanting the world to work in a different way than it actually does. More succinctly, just because advertisers haven't done it well, doesn't mean it can't be done.

In fact, as this generation of baby boomers dies off, I have a strong feeling porn will become far more normalized and have more prestigious non-porn brands associated with it, so long as more prestigious porn brands can rise up.


Would depend which way the pendulum ends up swinging afa "sex positivity" vs. puritanism in modern feminism, plus of course how mainstream porn develops. Looks to me like it's ending up equally or even more compartmentalized, just for very different reasons.

I mean current moves are more along the lines of dropping topless women from tabloids/Playboy ending nudity, Britain trying to age-limit porn, etc.

Also probably comes down to the basic technical difficulty of targeting ads on websites often browsed in private mode. Which will probably keep being the case for a lot of people, for practical reasons, regardless of how normalized porn might be.


A great deal of advertising revolves around "brand awareness". You may not be selling a particular product to the consumer, but keeping your brand in the mind of the consumer. Understandably so, not all advertisers want their brand associated with adult content.

Where an ad is seen can be just as (if not more) important to the advertiser as the ad itself. So, if your site serves up adult content -- you can guarantee that companies with large ad budgets won't be buying ad space.


>A great deal of advertising revolves around "brand awareness". You may not be selling a particular product to the consumer, but keeping your brand in the mind of the consumer. Understandably so, not all advertisers want their brand associated with adult content.

If all brands allowed their ads to appear next to adult content, then it wouldn't be any special association for any particular brand, just another outlet.

So I guess it has more to do with the historical prudery of some countries, when an ad appearing next to adult content would trigger angry letters to the editor, editorials, and so on from "concerned citizens".

That said, advertisers didn't seem to have much issue advertising all kinds of stuff on Playboy back in the day, or FHM and the like today...


> That said, advertisers didn't seem to have much issue advertising all kinds of stuff on Playboy back in the day, or FHM and the like today...

I guess it’s because Playboy and FHM are somehow considered tasteful and for connoisseurs?


I suppose that was Hugh Hefner's brilliance. That if Playboy was seen as "tasteful porn", then advertising space instantly became more valuable.


> If all brands allowed their ads to appear next to adult content, then it wouldn't be any special association for any particular brand, just another outlet.

Well yeah. Brands aren't going to put in the effort to solve a thorny collective action problem just to open up a bit more ad space. They're trying to make money, not repair broken social norms.


Big brands (i.e. the only companies with budgets that matter) are violently opposed to being associated with anything that might degrade their brand. It isn’t surprising, and it has nothing to do with morals or prudishness.

They are equally put off by pirated content, for example.


Big brands with the big ad budgets tend to be run by or depend on sales to socially conservative people.

See this line from the FAQ on Automattic's ad service:

>> "The ads tend to be broad national campaigns, rather than targeted local or topical campaigns. We have found that the broad campaigns pay better. That said, visitors from countries outside the US and Europe will often see targeted local ads."

https://wordads.co/faq/

Companies like that have to think about sales everywhere, not just in places with progressive views on sex.


As long as content is flagged and companies can block their ads from content they find objectionable it would’ve been fine.


Use a different domain then?


This does seem like a stupid simple solution. tumblr.com can continue being SFW, and then there'd be nsfwtumblr.com (or whatever) that contains "the good stuff". Retain account name uniqueness across both domains.


My very limited experience with tumblr (pre-rule change) is that it was essentially impossible to use without being frequently exposed to sexually explicit photographs. ... in contrast to reddit, which is full of outright porn but there I seldom see anything more risque than a bikini shot unless I navigate to a relevant subreddit.

Maybe the critical difference is that if your account would have anything remotely adult at all, including text, or would repost anything from account that was flagged adult then your account would need to be flagged adult. And as a result a lot of accounts were adult flagged and a lot of users felt they had to log in and enable view-adult in order to not get left out. And then even if you have no particular interest in browsing the explicit content on tumblr you can't have many contacts before you start getting occasional reposts of it.

Regardless, being able to have a site which users can fully engage with without a steady stream of surprise crotch shots that they aren't interested in seems like a pretty reasonable goal. Banning the content outright seems like a really blunt way to get there, but maybe that was less damaging to the monetization strategy than making a lot of images click to load?


tumblx.com, surely.


tumblrer


That doesn't seem to stop Twitter.


What qualifies as "better"? Twitter has pretty great user flagging, but I still get uncensored porn from people who are not followed by anyone I know in my 'Your Highlights' email, and I have safe settings enabled. I'd say even one exposure to that is enough to put off users. Or the parents of users.


Twitter is terrible for flagging NSFW content. Either everything you post is NSFW, not nothing you post is NSFW. You can't flag a single post as NSFW


I'm sure there is plenty of training data available elsewhere on the internet...


Continually tagged by ~100M unique monthly visitors? (the rough drop in traffic, post-ban)


#Epstein is trending and you have to ask why a company might be wary of advertising on a site with unmoderated adult content?


I don't think Epstein was interested in adult content.


Are you worried that there's not enough porn on the internet already?


Tumblr had a wealth of self-produced and curated adult content for and by gender and sexual minorities, with meaningful discussion. No, I don't think the internet has enough of that.


Yepppppp. I'm still pretty mad about this because along with the porn went the community of such people surrounding it.

Still trying to find where all the people landed after the purge.


With very few exceptions, I'm in favor of the internet having more of anything that anyone is trying to make it have less of.


Ads? Spam?


Sure. Caveat Utilitor.

I'd rather have an internet full of dark and danger than a safe theme park moderated by corporate entities and governments.


>With very few exceptions


It's just that tumblr had the best porn.


The spice^H^H^H^H^H porn must flow


You shouldn't equal what tumblr considers to be "adult content" to "porn".


They flagged several classic paintings as porn on my account. Justice Stewart they are not.


I had a photo of a Premier Inn[1] bedroom flagged on my account. Presumably because my rucksack was being too seductive on the bed.

[1] UK equivalent of somewhere between a motel and a hotel.




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