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Community students, professionals, etc.
Membership open, free, registered
Privacy features that support privacy
Self Identity features that support identity
Features microblogging
Launch Date April 27, 2007
Users number of people

Tumblr is a microblogging and social networking website owned by Tumblr, Inc. Its users can share various content on their blogs, follow other users' blogs, and create private blogs. The majority of Tumblr content is represented by pictures, GIFS, and short text sections. The site runs using a dashboard interface from which users can access the majority of Tumblr's features.[1]

Founded in 2007, Tumblr has grown to host 75.9 million blogs. In terms of web traffic, the site is globally rated at rank 37, and rank 20 in the United States.[2][3][4]

The site has faced ethical concerns such as copyright violations, pornography, censorship, and blacklisting.


Founder and CEO, David Karp

Tumblr was officially launched in November of 2007. The site was maintained by two people: CEO, David Karp, and programmer, Marco Arment. Prior to its launch, David Karp caught on to the new trend of "tumblelogs"; short-form blog posts. Seeing that no social platform had been created to host such blogs, Karp began working on what would become Tumblr. [5][6]

Tumblr's usage growth from its launch to 2011

Two weeks after Tumblr's launch, it had a user base of 75,000. In 2009, Tumblr, Inc. acquired Tumblerette, an application in the iTunes App Store, after which Tumblr launched its official app for the iPhone. In 2012, Tumblr began moving towards paid advertising and featured their first brand advertising campaign with Adidas.[1] Around this time, the site sported a growth of 15 billion monthly page views and 120 million monthly unique visitors, a 900% platform growth from the previous year.


As of October 6, 2012, Tumblr has over 76.3 million blogs and more than 33 billion blog posts.[2] The company now employs 103 people, though Marco Arment left in 2010 to focus on Instapaper. 40-45% percent of Tumblr's users are located in the U.S and 2% of its overall users are responsible for 43% of its visits.[7] As of 2017, Tumblr had over 345 million registered accounts.[8]


Tumblr's Post Templates

Blog Options

Tumblr gives various options in setting up one's blog. One can allow for multiple authors as well as write multiple unique blogs on a single account. A blog can be password protected so as to keep it private or share with a select group of readers. There are also various ways to customize a blog by selecting between various provided themes. Users can customize the HTML of a theme or make one from scratch. Themes are also able to be sold by creators and bought by users.[9]


The dashboard is the user’s homepage. It displays a feed of posts from the user's followed blogs. Users are also able to post their own content from the dashboard, in addition to customizing their blog, searching tagged content, and checking private messages.

Post Formats

As a microblogging site, Tumblr offers a variety of templates for different types of posts. The available templates assist in blogging text, photos, quotes, links, chat transcripts, audio, and videos. Tumblr also allows users to tag posts as a way for other users to search for them.[9]

Post Interaction

Users may interact with posts through reblogging or liking. Reblogging allows users to re-post content from other blogs on their own blog. Reblogged Tumblr posts allow the option of adding text in response to the poster, somewhat similar to {{Twitter | Twitter]]'s quoted tweets. This text then shows up underneath the original post, tabbed in once for each reply. Liking serves as a way for users to acknowledge posts, without these posts appearing on user's blogs. Liked posts are archived on the user's Tumblr account so that each user is able to easily find their likes again.


Each blog post maintains a record of all the reblogs and likes it has received. Popular blogs, in addition to having many followers, consistently post content that receives large amounts of notes.[9] These notes include the text that people add to the posts, which can follow many different trails as different people reply to the original post, then others reply to their replies.


Tumblr content emphasizes user personality and identity, allowing users to connect with each other through shared interests and ideas. For this reason, numerous fandoms, in addition to identity-based communities use Tumblr as a platform. Post features such as tagging facilitate the search of posts through criteria such as keywords, and reblogging allows for the dissemination of posts within communities.

Ethical Debates

Copyright Issues

Tumblr's reblog feature allows users to copy the posts of other users without crediting the creators of the post. This can cause problems when the information is shared through the site that is copyrighted. Tumblr has a written policy "to respond to notices of alleged copyright infringement" stating that users must certify that they have a right to post the content they display on their blogs. Regardless, these infringements are often overlooked by the users. [10] Tumblr has included rules and regulations in their terms of service that outline what is and is not copyright infringement including topics like trademarks, logos, brands, and licensing. Tumblr has also provided users a form to fill out as well as contact information to report any cases that they believe violate the copyright regulations as written in the terms of service. [11]


Many do not consider Tumblr to be a place for pornography, but it is an issue that is quickly rising. Tumblr is particularly problematic because it is the users' responsibility to tag such items as "NSFW" (not safe for work) to allow users to block this content from feeds if they do not wish to view it. Issues arise when users do not follow through on this responsibility, as Tumblr itself is unable to edit tags on posts. [12] Many pornography bloggers do not tag content as NSFW, making it complicated to determine what content is and is not pornography. Therefore, it is difficult for Tumblr to label these posts and categorize them when the self-tagging method is done incorrectly. Tumblr does have the ability to flag an account as "Adult" without the user actually labeling it as such. Once a blog is flagged as "Adult", those posts will never appear on Tumblr's public tag searches. Only followers and followers of people reblogging your content will be able to see that user's posts. [13]

On February 17, 2016, the government of Indonesia decided to block Tumblr due to the high amount of pornography, explicit content, and material referencing LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender). The site was violating the 2008 Pornography Law. Officials said that Tumblr would be blocked until it removed all explicit content. Tumblr did not respond to this issue.[14]

Perfect 10

Perfect 10, a San Diego-based publisher of pornography, filed a suit on May 4, 2012, against Tumblr as a result of the site's failed action in taking down over 200 copyright infringing images. Many of the images, Perfect 10 claimed, had Perfect 10 copyrights "conspicuously placed on the images." For cases involving information sharing platforms, under "safe harbor" laws, it is the user who is usually accountable for copyright infringements, not the host site. However, given that Perfect 10 had issued six takedown requests to Tumblr, which were largely ignored, the blame fell on the blogging site.[10][15]. This issue has still yet to be resolved.


In February of 2012, Tumblr enacted a new policy of banning content that "actively promotes or glorifies self-injury or self-harm". This was in reaction to posts of this nature permeating Tumblr feeds and potentially "triggering" those struggling with mental health disorders. However, not all posts are included in this policy; jokes are often overlooked. Other posts often slip through algorithms, which Tumblr addresses with an option to flag skeptical content for review. Tumblr also has chosen to display a public service announcement when some things are searched, such as: "purging", "anorexic", and "proana". These PSAs illustrate the topic's harmful effects in addition to listing resources available for help.[16][17]

A Screenshot of Tumblr's dashboard on the day of the SOPA Strike

SOPA Strike

On January 18, 2012, Tumblr, along with other online social media sites, participated in a protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) by blacking out their site content. Users were also allowed to black out their personal blogs in a statement against SOPA. [18]



Tumblr has multiple extensions that allow people to blacklist certain tags so that they will not show up on their feed. This allows users to not see certain content that they do not wish to see.[19]. One of the most popular uses of this is to block content with the "Trigger Warning" tag, stopping users from seeing content that would be potentially triggering to Tumblr users. [20]. While extensions like these add additional personalization and functionality to the website, it alters the the platform intended by developers.

Missing E

"Missing e" is an unofficial browser extension for Tumblr, which allows added functionality to the basic Tumblr features. Some of these features include allowing users to reblog their own posts, enlarge photos while staying on the dashboard, and improve the management of messages in the inbox.[21][22] This extension was created by developer Jeremy Cutler. It garnered a lot of attention due to it's positive and wide reception and offered increased usability and functionality of the Tumblr platform. This extension also received criticism from Tumblr because of what they viewed as an intrusion to the default layout of the original website. The platform expressed issue with how Missing e made API (application programming interface) calls and questioned whether it violated their own API License Agreement.

Missing e changes the layout of their website, adds features, and overall can make the website look and feel completely different. When trying to work with Tumblr developers to resolve these issues, they suggested that he rework the extension and remove most of its functionality. Cutler did not want to do this as it would render most of his work moot. However, ethical concerns remained in whether Tumblr has the right to tell him do this as Missing e is his own derivative creation of the platform of which he has ownership as creator. There are also concerns about whether he should be free to build on top of an experience provided to him in this manner, since using the Tumblr API requires accordance with the API License Agreement. In the end, however, Cutler was asked to take down the extension and the final release of the extension was published in December of 2012.

See Also

External Links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wikipedia "Tumblr" [1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 Tumblr "About" [2]
  3. Alexa Top 500 Global Sites [3]
  4. Alexa Top Sites in United States [4]
  5. The History of Tumblr's Creation [5]
  6. Davidville [6]
  7. The Big Picture "Tumblr Growth Statistics & Trends: Users & Usage" [7]
  8. Gordon, Kyle. “Topic: Tumblr.”
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 A Complete Guide To Tumblr [8]
  10. 10.0 10.1 Copyright Claim Against Tumblr May Test Immunity of Photo Sharing Sites [9]
  11. Tumblr Terms of Service https://www.tumblr.com/policy/en/terms-of-service#dmca
  12. [10]
  13. Porn is a Problem on Tumblr https://pando.com/2013/07/26/tumblr-porn-is-a-bigger-problem-than-yahoo-realizes/
  14. Indonesia Blocks Tumblr http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/02/18/tumblr-be-blocked-indonesia-due-pornography-lgbt-content-govt.html
  15. Perfect 10 Sues Tumblr For Copyright Infringement Over Nude Photos [11]
  16. Tumblr Censors Self-Harm Blogs and Educates Users Who Search for “Thinspiration” [12]
  17. Is Tumblr’s New Policy Ethical? [13]
  18. SOPA Strike [14]
  19. How to Blacklist on Tumblr http://www.wikihow.com/Blacklist-on-Tumblr
  20. Trigger & Content Warnings http://trigger-warning-guide.tumblr.com/triggers
  21. "Missing E Features" http://missing-e.com/features
  22. "Missing e: How a Troubled Tumblr Add-On was Reborn." https://mashable.com/2011/08/12/tumblr-missing-e/#.DzPgzZM9qq5

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