LOS ANGELES—Bloomberg News posed a good question today: “If Yahoo Buys Tumblr, What Will It Do With All That Porn?” The Marissa Mayer-run company is reportedly interested in acquiring the popular social network for a cool billion. At any rate, that’s what they apparently think it will cost them to become cool again.
So, if the sale goes through, what will happen to all that porn? Are we supposed to believe they have considered the more subtle ramifications of a sale? We’re not so sure. Tumblr has been friendly to porn for a long time, but TechCrunch detailed back in August of last year that the bloom was starting to come off the rose as the site was experiencing meteoric growth, most of it the result of new mainstream subdomains.
Tumblr protested at the time, saying it was not so, it still loved its porn; shuttered sex sites countered it was so, and after a while everyone kind of went back to sleep. But now the question has raised its ugly head again in the aftermath of the sale rumor. At least it did with Bloomberg’s Joshua Brustein, who quipped, “It will be fun to see how these [porn subdomains] are integrated into Yahoo News.”
For many in the industry, however, the question of what might happen to adult-oriented Tumblr pages is not an idle curiosity but a matter of livelihood. Many performers have pages that they use frequently to post photos of themselves at work or play that they then disseminate to the universe as another prong in their self-marketing endeavors. The same, of course, goes for businesses.
In Brustein’s view, however, there might not be that much to worry about. Yahoo! is no Tumblr, but it is certainly not an Apple. Similar to Tumblr, he writes, “Yahoo’s terms of service also warn users that they might encounter adult material in the company’s products, although it does so without using profanity. And like any service that includes user-generated content, Yahoo has had to deal with people indulging in sexual interests that not everyone would approve of.”
If the sale goes through, he concludes, “It’s hard to see the environment getting any friendlier for pornographers on the network. On the other hand, Yahoo may have to tread carefully with suggestive content. There are reasons why Tumblr is popular with young people. Prudishness is not high on that list.”