Tumblr, as a company is taking a stance on self-harm and is blocking blogs that promote such activities, as anorexia and bulimia (and other eating disorders), self mutilation and suicide. As a blog hosting service, Tumblr recognizes that there are blogs on virtually every subject that is out there, but they've decided that there are some topics that should not be promoted. Some of the topics that they previously came down heavily on are spam and identity theft. Now, they said in a company blog post that their Content Policy had not previously banned self harm promoting websites, until now.
Tumblr will block blogs promoting self harm
Since banning such blogs may stand in the way of free speech, Tumblr has to be careful with what they do with their new policy. They write, “The question for us has been whether it’s better to (a) prohibit them, as a statement against the very ideas of self-harm that they are advancing, or (b) permit them to stay up, accompanied by a public service warning that directs readers to helplines run by organizations like the National Eating Disorders Association.” They're asking for feedback from the Tumblr community on the matter.
They say that there are a few things they can do in the meantime to address the issue. The following is what they say they are adding to their Content Policy:
Active Promotion of Self-Harm. Don’t post content that actively promotes or glorifies self-injury or self-harm. This includes content that urges or encourages readers to cut or mutilate themselves; embrace anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders; or commit suicide rather than, e.g., seek counseling or treatment for depression or other disorders. 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. For example, joking that you need to starve yourself after Thanksgiving or that you wanted to kill yourself after a humiliating date is fine, but recommending techniques for self-starvation or self-mutilation is not.
They will begin with this policy, next week and any blogs that currently promote any form of self-harm have a week's grace period to edit or download their content.
Furthermore, they are going to start showing public service announcement-type messages, when people search for tags that are a form of self-harm. For instance, if someone searches for the words “anorexia”, “bulimia”, “binge-purge” or other words relating to eating disorders, they will see a message along the lines of, “Eating disorders can cause serious health problems, and at their most severe can even be life-threatening. Please contact the [resource organization] at [helpline number] or [website].“