The Tumblr Fallout

What Tumblr Used to Be: 2007 to 2013

  • David Karp’s original idea and purpose behind Tumblr — “I tried all of the great tools that were around at the time — WordPress, Blogger — and obviously all the specialized tools — Flickr for photos and YouTube for videos — and I kept falling down. I was perfectly happy with all these tools but at the same time, constantly frustrated by the limitations imposed by all of them.” source
  • The unified tumblelog (a blog that supports mixed content with a seemingly endless scroll feature) that became Tumblr attracted people who wanted to be creative, to tell jokes, and to express their views on the latest trends through mostly visual content.
  • Although Tumblr had the Like, Reblog and Subscribe features, likes and followers were not important on Tumblr. It succeeded because you could make a cup of coffee and spend hours scrolling through a variety of content without worrying about the outside world.
  • Although some people disclosed their real names on Tumblr, the vast majority of users did not want to be recognized in the outside world. There were many jokes in 2010 where users would comedically worry about their parents or friends finding out that they were passionate about My Little Pony and a few peculiar fetishes.
  • The point of Tumblr in this period was that people had a platform where they could freely express their most inner thoughts, interests, emotional states, and obsessions without being judged by the outside world — because no one knew who they were. It allowed people to be people and not a watered down version of who they really are.
  • The most popular users in this period: fans, artists, musicians, writers, people who sought emotional comfort, people who came to Tumblr to express a fetish or a sensual desire.
  • Interestingly, although there was erotic content on Tumblr even at this period, the content was mostly tailored for women, not men. Women wrote, drew, and photographed it for themselves, by themselves and for other women.

Tumblr Is Bought by Yahoo: 2013

  • Tumblr’s CEO and Founder sells the entire platform to Yahoo.
  • Yahoo appears to have very little understanding of the users that they will have to handle through the platform. At the time, it was already obvious to all Tumblr users that Yahoo had probably not thought this through.
  • Yahoo proceeds to create updates on the platform that no one asked for. This includes a new visual style (everyone hated it), and a gazillion new features that no one needed (Tumblr soon became a lot slower to handle and would often crash). Yahoo attempted to fix something that was not broken to begin with.
  • Soon, ads started to appear on Tumblr (something that was unimaginable before the sale) and users soon realized that they were being sold for profit. The ads had nothing to do with the users or the content, they were the same ads that were already known to appear on Yahoo.
  • Because so much of the content on Tumblr was very personal, it often fell into what today is considered censored content. Yahoo had seemingly not expected this level of what they thought was restricted content, so they begin to censor it (even posts that were not harming anyone).
  • Users became agitated that the rules of the platform were changing and they start leaving.
  • Yahoo encourages influencers to join with their likes, follower,s and products to sell. They specifically encourage influencers such as fitness models, and people who seemingly had a lot of money and who would flaunt their wealth and their holidays on Tumblr. This is the exact opposite of the original Tumblr crowd, who were made up of millions of regular people who just wanted to be left alone with the pressures and insecurities that were constantly coming from the world.
  • Even more users leave.



Tumblr on December 17th, 2018

  • After a series of problems, Tumblr releases a statement that they will ban all adult content: Banned content includes photos, videos, and GIFs of human genitalia, female-presenting nipples, and any media involving sex acts, including illustrations. source
  • Tumblr’s recent algorithm update pertaining to banned content is already failing spectacularly. It is failing to the point where Tumblr is flagging classical works of art.
  • A massive protest has erupted on Twitter, with users leaving the platform en masse.
  • Tumblr banning adult content also affects many communities, especially those who don’t find themselves represented properly on the Internet.
  • The current Tumblr wants the world and the users to be squeaky clean, have no bad thoughts, have no naughty desires, and just look through thousands of images of pastel colours, influencers, ads, and endless products. In short, Tumblr wants to tell people how to live their life, which is why it will fall.



Enter phlow: December 2018

  • Established in 2016, phlow has always stood for #MediaDemocracy, for people’s freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom to be themselves.
  • phlow is a platform where users can express themselves freely and without judgement. A platform where marginalized communities have a stable and supportive platform to speak from and express themselves.
  • phlow’s knees don’t buckle at “female-presenting nipples”.

phlow — the revolution of microblogging without limits

“There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.” — George Orwell.

Censorship silences parts of the population and undermines those advocating for freedom of speech as a global human right. This is not democracy. Acting as content “gatekeepers”, most of the mainstream social media are no more than echo chambers. How healthy is a democracy in which media elites use their power to exclude the voices that are against their rulebook and manipulate the public through their eco chamber?

It feels a lot like George Orwell’s 1984. Platforms today decide what we see, how much we should see (#freethenipple), and what to do with what we see (Cambridge Analytica). We are building phlow because we also feel the pain. We are building phlow because we don’t fit out there. We are building phlow because change has to start somewhere. We can sit back and worry about the future, or we can start to build something different. We decided to build!

phlow is a platform for visual storytellers. It’s a new medium of communication. One that is collaborative and immediate; an evolution in microblogging. phlow is the visual journal of the future: a mobile app for sharing stories, media democracy, and freedom of speech.

We are freed from boundaries, stigmas, and stereotypes. Talent and art must run free to be expressed in their purest form. We must be allowed to express ourselves and speak our truth in an open and uncensored way. In order to finally escape the stereotypes and stigmas that have a tight hold on our bodies, culture, gender, sexuality, and religious views, we must be free to tell the stories that mean something to us and to share them with all those to whom our stories are relevant!

We believe in collective creativity, which is why we have created a platform for creatives to run free and collaborate on topics they care about. In phlow, individual creativity contributes to creating a better community, and a freedom of expression — without limits.

Jovana is a marketer with a university degree in International Marketing and a postgraduate degree in Marketing Management. She has almost 10 years of experience in marketing jobs in various industries and business types and a proven track record of over 50 successfully delivered projects related to digital marketing and business growth.
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