Tags are what make posts searchable on Tumblr; posts with censored tags won’t appear on a users’ dashboard, nor will they show up on the platform’s search page. A Twitter thread brought attention to some of the absurd tags that ended up getting filtered out on iOS, including the tag “submission.”
To comply with Apple’s rigorous safety requirements, Tumblr’s iOS app has been updated to restrict a lengthy number of tags. The platform states that it is altering iOS users’ ability to access sensitive information, which may impair their experience while searching for content, scrolling through the “Stuff for You” and “Following” parts of the dashboard, and perhaps preventing access to flagged blogs. To “remain available within Apple’s App Store,” Tumblr claims it must “expand the definition of what sensitive material is,” and it appears that Tumblr went too far.
Another Tumblr user, aptly named “bannedtags,” has been keeping track of all the blocked tags in a Google Doc. The user notes that most of these tags have been banned on iOS —not on all devices — and that the listed tags are subject to change. Some banned tags are blatantly related to sexual, violent, or harmful content, but others don’t seem to belong on the list, and may actually do more harm than good by staying on it.
The interesting part, though, is that Tumblr applies that tag automatically when a post is submitted and then published to a blog on the platform. Users on iOS who receive a submission to their blog won’t even be able to view it since the “submission” tag is already added, as shown in a post by one Tumblr user.
To make things even weirder, Tumblr blacklisted some tags that basically function as unspoken social cues on the site. “Me” and “my face” are blocked, both of which are tags that bloggers use to label their selfies (oh, and did I forget to mention that “selfie” is banned, too?). The platform appears to have blocked “queue” as well, a tag that’s typically applied to posts that were placed in a queue and serves as a signal to followers that they may not be online at the moment.
For example, “girl,” “sad,” and oddly enough, “Alec Lightwood,” an actor from the show Shadowhunters, has been banned (because even Tumblr can’t handle those eyes). “Single dad,” “single mom,” “single parent,” “suicide prevention,” and “testicular cancer” are also on the list, potentially harming those who want to seek support in any of these areas.