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Tumblr will review its moderation algorithms after a porn ban-related settlement

NYC's human rights commission said the ban disproportionately affected LGBTQ+ users.
UKRAINE - 2021/10/02: In this photo illustration a Tumblr logo of a microblogging and social networking website is seen on a smartphone and a pc screen. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
SOPA Images via Getty Images
Kris Holt
Kris Holt|@krisholt|February 25, 2022 1:47 PM

Tumblr has reached a settlement with New York City’s Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) over how the social media platform handled its ban on adult content, which came into force in 2018. CCHR officials, which started an investigation soon after Tumblr announced the ban, claimed that the move disproportionately impacted LGBTQ+ users.

Under the settlement, which was first reported by The Verge, Tumblr will bring in an expert to review its moderation algorithms for potential bias. It will put its moderators through a diversity and inclusion training program, revise the appeals process. Tumblr will also re-assess around 3,000 old cases of successful user appeals against takedowns to look for indicators of bias.

Tumblr says that, since WordPress owner Automattic bought the service in 2019 from Verizon, it replaced the algorithm that was used to classify adult content. According to the agreement with CCHR, which didn't make a formal legal complaint, the new system can "more accurately classify images and data." The appeal process for images deemed to violate Tumblr's adult content ban has also been revamped. Human reviewers now review appeals and make the final calls.

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Automattic's acquisition of Tumblr may have led to the deal being struck. The Verge notes that, under its current ownership, Tumblr has tried to make amends with LGBTQ+ users who left the platform in the wake of the ban. Even before Tumblr outlawed porn, the platform apologized after its Safe Mode filtered out LGBTQ+ posts that were not explicit.

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Tumblr will review its moderation algorithms after a porn ban-related settlement