I have a list that you can download here of all the apps I recommend you remove from your kids’ phones if you see them. Tumblr is on that list because of the overwhelming amount of easily accesible explicit content. A few months ago Tumblr launched a way to turn off the automatic safe search required by apple on all iOS devices. Now they’ve added a “safe mode” to their app and website to keep NSFW (not safe for work) content from appearing in your Tumblr feed. This mode is available in the settings of the app and website in your browser. It will be automatically on for people who’s age is under 18 and who aren’t logged in to Tumblr when accessing content.
The safe mode works, not as a filter to keep out content, but as a cover to hide NSFW images so any onlookers won’t see. The feature adds a cover on posts with explicit content that can be removed by tapping or clicking “show post.” The goal isn’t to keep sensitive material from appearing in your feed, it’s meant to keep you from getting caught looking at the sensitive content. The safe search option, together with this safe mode setting could lead you into a false sense of security with what is available for your kids to see on Tumblr but these settings aren’t meant to keep this content away from people trying to find it. They are more suited to keep folks from scrolling past something on accident. Both security modes can easily be bypassed in settings that can’t be protected by a password.
What Parents Should Know
The fact remains that pornography is by far the most commonly searched content on Tumblr (over 20% of all searches are for porn the next most popular is literature at just over 7% of all searches.) Explicit content is easily available on Tumblr and because of that I caution parents about this app all of the time. This is one app that I recommend be uninstalled and a social media platform that I would keep my kids from altogether. My advice is that you add Tumblr to your filter blacklist and your accountability software red flag list. This will keep the entire site off of your kids phones and computers and give you peace of mind that they won’t find any of the easily accesible images so prevalent on the site.