Tumblr

Tumblr logo

Tumblr is an American microblogging and social networking website founded by David Karp in 2007 and currently owned by Automattic. The service allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog. Users can follow other users' blogs. Bloggers can also make their blogs private.

Quick Fact

Summary

  • Ranked #103th worldwide
  • Active users 472 M
  • Type Blogging Networks
  • Launched date Feb 2007
  • Employees 411
  • Headquarters 770 Broadway, New York City, U.S.
  • Parent company Automattic (2019 - Present)

Founders

person
David Karp New York

Networks

  • Brand value In 2020 $3 M
  • Revenue in 2020 N/A
  • Net loss In 2020 N/A

Data Graphs

personvia Statista.com

Criticism

CriticismTumblr founder and CEO David Karp. (via ibtimes.com)

Copyright issues

Tumblr has received criticism for copyright violations by participating bloggers; however, Tumblr accepts Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) take-down notices.

Tumblr's visual appeal has made it ideal for photoblogs that often include copyrighted works from others that are re-published without payment.

Tumblr users can post unoriginal content by "Reblogging", a feature on Tumblr that allows users to re-post content taken from another blog onto their own blog with attribution.

Security

Tumblr has been forced to manage spam and security problems. For example, a chain letter scam in May 2011 affected 130,000 users.

On Dec 3, 2012, Tumblr was attacked by a cross-site scripting worm deployed by the Internet troll group Gay Nigger Association of America. The message urged users to harm themselves and criticized blogging in general.

User interface changes

In 2015, Tumblr faced criticism by users for changes to its reblog mechanisms. In July 2015, the system was modified so that users cannot remove or edit individual comments by other users when reblogging a post; existing comments can only be removed all at once. Tumblr staff argued that the change was intended to combat "misattribution", though this move was met by criticism from ‘ask blogs’ and ‘RP blogs’, which often shortened long chains of reblogs between users to improve readability.

In Sep 2015, Tumblr changed how threads of comments on reblogged posts are displayed; rather than a nested view with indentations for each post, all reblogs are now shown in a flat view, and the user avatars were also added. The change was intended to improve the legibility of reblogs, especially on mobile platforms, and complements the inability to edit existing comments. Although some users had requested such a change to combat posts made illegible by extremely large numbers of comments on a reblogged post, the majority of users (even those who had requested such a change) criticized the new format.

The Verge was also critical of the changes, noting that it was cleaner, but made the site lose its "nostalgic charm".

Userbase behavior

While Tumblr's userbase has generally been received as accommodating people from a wide range of ideologies and identities, a common point of criticism is that attitudes from users on the site stifle discussion and discourse.

In addition, several incidents involving serious behavior from the userbase have been publicized in recent years; these include the ‘Independence Day raid’ in 2014, in which users of Tumblr attempted to raid 4chan, only for the raid to backfire when 4chan retaliated, as well as an incident in 2015, in which members of the Steven Universe fandom drove an artist to the point of attempting suicide over their artwork, in which they drew characters thin that are typically seen as being 'fat' in the show.

In 2018, Kotaku reporter Gita Jackson described the site as a 'joyless black hole', citing how the website's design and functionality led to 'fandoms spinning out of control', as well as an environment that inhibited discussion and discourse.

Promotion of self-harm and suicide

In Feb 2012, Tumblr banned blogs that promote or advocate suicide, self-harm and eating disorders (pro-ana).

The suicide of a British teenager, Tallulah Wilson, raised the issue of suicide and self-harm promotion on Tumblr as Wilson was reported to have maintained a self-harm blog on the site. A user on the site is reported to have sent Wilson an image of a noose accompanied by the message: "here is your new necklace, try it on." In response to the Wilson case, Maria Miller, the UK's minister for culture, media, and sport, said that social media sites like Tumblr need to remove "toxic" self-harm content.

Searching terms like "depression", "anxiety", and "suicide" on Tumblr now brings up a PSA page directing the user to resources like the national suicide lifeline, and 7 Cups; as well as an option to continue to the search results.

There are concerns about some Tumblr posts glorifying suicide and depression among young people.

Politics

In Feb 2018, BuzzFeed published a report claiming that Tumblr was utilized as a distribution channel for Russian agents to influence American voting habits during the 2016 presidential election.

Despite policies forbidding hate speech, Tumblr has been noted for hosting content from Nazis and white supremacists. In May 2020, Tumblr announced that it will remove reblogs of terminated hate speech posts, specifically Nazi and white supremacist content.

Censorship

Several countries have blocked access to Tumblr because of pornography, religious extremism, or LGBT content. These countries include China, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, and Iran.

In Feb 2016, the Indonesian government temporarily blocked access to Tumblr within the country because the site hosts pages that carried porn. The government shortly reversed its decision to block the site and said it had asked Tumblr to self-censor its pornographic content.

Adult content ban

In Nov 2018, Tumblr's iOS app was removed by Apple from its App Store after illegal child pornography images were found on the service.

Tumblr stated that all images uploaded to the service are scanned against an industry database, but that a "routine audit" had revealed images that had not yet been added to the database.

In the wake of the incident, a number of Tumblr blogs-particularly those dealing primarily in adult-tagged artwork such as erotica, as well as art study and anatomy resources-were also deleted, with affected users taking to other platforms (such as Twitter) to warn others and complain about the deletions, as well as encourage users to back up their blog's contents.

Tumblr subsequently removed the ability to disable "Safe Mode" from its Android app and announced a wider ban on explicit images of sex acts and nudity on the platform with certain limited exceptions. Tumblr decided to use an automatic content recognition system which resulted in many non-pornographic images being removed from the platform.

Tumblr subsequently removed the ability to disable "Safe Mode" from its Android app and announced a wider ban on explicit images of sex acts and nudity on the platform with certain limited exceptions. Tumblr decided to use an automatic content recognition system which resulted in many non-pornographic images being removed from the platform.

Adult Content

Current ControversiesTumblr.18+. (via piunikaweb.com)

Tumblr was noted by technology journalists as having a sizable amount of pornographic content. An analysis conducted by news and technology site TechCrunch on May 20, 2013, showed that over 22% of all traffic in and out of Tumblr was classified as pornography.

In addition, a reported 16.45% of blogs on Tumblr exclusively contained pornographic material. Following July 2013 and its acquisition by Yahoo, Tumblr progressively restricted adult content on the site.

In July 2013, Tumblr began to filter content in adult-tagged blogs from appearing in search results and tagged displays unless the user was logged in.

In Feb 2018, Safe Mode (which filters "sensitive" content and blogs) became enabled by default for all users on an opt-out basis

On Dec 3, 2018, Tumblr announced that effective Dec 17, all images and videos depicting sex acts, and real-life images and videos depicting human genitalia or "female-presenting" nipples, would be banned from the service.

Exceptions are provided for illustrations or art that depict nudity, nudity related to "political or newsworthy speech", and depictions of "female-presenting" nipples in relation to medical events such as childbirth, breastfeeding, mastectomy, and gender reassignment surgery.

The rules do not apply to text content. All posts in violation of the policy are hidden from public view, and repeat offenders may be reprimanded.

Shortly prior to the announcement, Tumblr's Android app was patched to remove the ability to disable Safe Mode.

The change faced wide criticism among Tumblr's community; in particular, it has been argued that the service should have focused on other major issues (such as controlling hate speech or the number of porn-related spambots on the service) and that the service's adult community provided a platform for sex education, independent adult performers (especially those representing LGBT communities who feel that they are underrepresented by a heteronormative mainstream industry) seeking an outlet for their work, and those seeking a safe haven from "over-policed" platforms to share creative work with adult themes.

Tumblr stated that it was using various algorithms to detect potential violations, in combination with manual reviews. Users quickly discovered a wide array of false positives. A large number of users scheduled protest actions on Dec 17.

On the day the ban took effect, Tumblr issued a new post clarifying the new policy, showcasing examples of adult images still allowed on the service, and stating that it "fully recognized" its "special obligation" to serving its LGBT userbase, and that "LGBTQ+ conversations, exploration of sexuality and gender, efforts to document the lives and challenges of those in the sex worker industry, and posts with pictures, videos, and GIFs of gender-confirmation surgery are all examples of content that is not only permitted on Tumblr but actively encouraged."

Wired cited multiple potential factors in the ban, including that the presence of adult content made the service unappealing to potential advertisers, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (a U.S. federal law which makes websites liable for knowingly assisting or facilitating illegal sex trafficking), as well as heavy restrictions on adult content imposed by Apple for software offered on the iOS App Store (which similarly prompted several Reddit clients to heavily frustrate the ability for users to access forums on the site that contain adult content).

Original Idea

original ideaoriginal idea

Tumblr CEO David Karp explains how he started Tumblr four years ago as a reaction to other blogging tools out there. “All blogs took the same form,” he notes. “I wanted something much more free-form, much less verbose. People wanted to express themselves and blog, but he felt that the standard blogging platforms available at the time Wordpress, Blogger, TypePad were too complicated. These tools I just don’t think worked for most people. It’s a commitment, you need to sit down for an hour and hammer out a post.”

He is quick to add that “WordPress is the best tool in the world for that” kind of publishing. But for someone like him who “doesn’t enjoy writing,” it was the wrong tool. So he created Tumblr instead, which is designed to help people get their thoughts and images up as quickly as possible and to lower the barrier to publishing even more.

But don’t Twitter and Facebook lower those barriers even further? They do, but they lack a strong expressive identity, argues Karp. “They are not tools built for creative expression,” he says, adding: “Nobody is proud of their identity on Facebook.”

Tumblr, in contrast, is built to be a place you can be proud to call your online home. It’s very design-oriented and you can customize your Tumblr to reflect your personality, but not in a cheesy MySpace way.

Brief History

2007
Feb Tumblr was launched.
Oct Tumblr raised $750,000 from Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures.
2008
Dec The company raised $4.5M in Series B funding.
2010
Apr The site became available to BlackBerry smartphones.

The company raised $5M.

Sep Arment left the company to focus on Instapaper.
Dec Tumblr raised $30M in Series D funding.
2011

Tumblr had received about $125M of funding from investors.

Tumblr was most popular with the teen and college-aged user segments with half of the visitor base being under the age of 25.

Aug The company had an $800M valuation.
Sep The company raised $85M in a round of funding led by Greylock Partners and Insight Venture Partners.
Oct Tumblr became the first blogging site to host the blog for President Barack Obama.
2012

Tumblr made $13M in revenue.

Tumblr reportedly spent $25M to fund operations.

Feb Tumblr banned blogs that promote or advocate suicide, self-harm and eating disorders (pro-ana).
May Tumblr launched Storyboard.
Jun Tumblr featured its first major brand advertising campaign in conjunction with Adidas.

Their first advertising launch started after 16 experimental campaigns.

Sep David Karp said the site was monetized by advertising.
Dec Tumblr was attacked by a cross-site scripting worm deployed by the Internet troll group Gay Nigger Association of America.
2013

Tumblr began allowing companies to pay to promote their own posts to a larger audience.

Apr A Windows Phone app was released.

The Storyboard was shut down.

The website received more than 13 billion global page views.

May An app for Google Glass was released.

Yahoo and Tumblr had reached an agreement for Yahoo! Inc. to acquire Tumblr for $1.1B in cash.

An analysis conducted by news and technology site TechCrunch showed that over 22% of all traffic in and out of Tumblr was classified as pornography.

Jun TumblrBot has been asked over 180,331 questions.
Jul Tumblr began to filter content in adult-tagged blogs from appearing in search results and tagged displays unless the user was logged in.
Nov There were over 91.7 million posts created on the site each day.
2015

Tumblr faced criticism by users for changes to its reblog mechanisms.

Jul The system was modified so that users cannot remove or edit individual comments by other users.
Dec Tumblr introduced an integrated instant messaging function, allowing users to chat with other Tumblr users.

Tumblr changed how threads of comments on reblogged posts are displayed.

2016

Kotaku reporter Gita Jackson described the site as a 'joyless black hole'.

Jan The website had over 500 million monthly visitors.
Feb The Indonesian government temporarily blocked access to Tumblr.
Jul Advertisements were implemented by default across all blogs.
2017
Jun Verizon Communications acquired Yahoo and placed Yahoo and Tumblr under its Oath subsidiary.

Tumblr had 411 employees.

Dec Karp announced that he would be leaving Tumblr by the end of the year.
2018
Jan Safe Mode became enabled by default for all users on an opt-out basis.

BuzzFeed published a report claiming that Tumblr was utilized as a distribution channel for Russian agents to influence American voting habits during the 2016 presidential election.

Mar Tumblr began to syndicate original video content from Verizon-owned video network go90.
Nov Tumblr's iOS app was removed by Apple from its App Store.
Dec Tumblr announced all images and videos depicting sex acts, and real-life images and videos depicting human genitalia or "female-presenting" nipples, would be banned from the service.
2019
May SimilarWeb estimated Tumblr had lost 30% of its user traffic since Dec 2018.It was reported that Verizon was considering selling the site due to its continued struggles since the purchase.

Tumblr hosts over 465 million blogs and more than 172 billion posts in total, with over 21 million posts created on the site each day.

Aug Tumblr hosts over 475 million blogs.

Verizon Media announced that it would sell Tumblr to Automattic.

Nov Tumblr introduced "group chats".
2020
May Tumblr announced that it will remove reblogs of terminated hate speech posts, specifically Nazi and white supremacist content.

Network Features

Getting a page set up on Tumblr is similar to other social media networks. Users sign up for an account by providing an email address as well as creating a password, username, and a URL for the page. URLs can be changed in perpetuity, but this can lead to a negative impact on search engine optimization (SEO) - it's best to take the time and find a URL that will work for a store at first.

The design of a page can either be custom-built or chosen from a list of pre-existing themes that can be found both on Tumblr and through outside websites. Furthermore, the majority of these premade themes can be adjusted in terms of frame size, color, and many other variables. An assortment of images, including an eCommerce store owner's product photos and logo, can be incorporated into the page. A store page should take advantage of available opportunities to present these related images and to link to the actual eCommerce site.

The dashboard is the main method for adding content to a Tumblr page. This functions as a content posting tool for nearly all types of text as well as graphic and video files. Users can view their own posts in both the theme chosen for their page as well as in an editable format. Posts from Tumblr pages a user follows are also seen on the dashboard, where they can be liked or reblogged. The number of other pages followed will directly correlate to the amount of content flowing through the dashboard.

Just like any other social media site, a Tumblr page should be linked on a merchant's main eCommerce site and on other social media accounts as appropriate.

Basic Features

Digg Newsrooms
																	Illustration. (via ithemesforests.com)

Ease of use

Tumblr has a simplified user interface, allowing users to upload simply by clicking on a button for text, picture, video, etc.

Like other social media sites, on Tumblr users can ‘follow’ other users. Following someone puts their posts on the dashboard, allowing the user to quickly read updates without having to visit other blogs.

Stylish & sophisticated design

There are hundreds of genuinely beautiful but equally customizable designs or “themes” for users to grab and make their own with no knowledge of HTML or CSS.

Or you can spring for the non-free themes out there of which there are tons to choose from.

The in crowd

Tumblr has managed to attract the “right” crowd to the platform, and they have created a vibrant, working social element.

Users can easily re-post the cool things discovered on other users’ blogs; and for advanced users, they can allow readers to submit their own content, by clicking ‘enable audience submissions’ in the advanced features tab.

Tumblelogging

The style of blogging used on Tumblr is a unique style of microblogging that has been labeled as tumble logging. Microblogging is essentially just a shorter form of a blog that is normally a short message of two or three sentences. Twitter has made microblogging popular, only allowing users to have updates of 140 characters or less.

Tumblelogging gives a stronger focus on mixed media. This means that videos and photos can be embedded within the post instead of simply shown as a link.

Features For Business

Features For BusinessIllustration. (via branddrivendigital.com)

Post types

Tumblr is built around seven distinct post types - text, photo, quote, link, chat, audio, and video - and a straightforward blogging interface.

This means a varied and content-rich blog can be quickly put together and easily maintained. Images, video, and audio can be hosted on Tumblr's servers free of charge, while Tumblr also enables multiple users to have posting rights on a single blog if necessary.

Associated official apps for iOS and Android enable posts to be made from mobile devices too.

Scheduled posts, queues, and drafts

Blog posts created on Tumblr don't have to be published immediately. They can be scheduled to appear on a certain date at a certain time, added to a queue that publishes posts automatically on a pre-determined schedule, or saved as a draft.

Posts can also be set as private and visible only to the members of the blog.

Twitter and Facebook integration

Tumblr includes tight Facebook and Twitter integration which can be configured from the user dashboard.

Posts made to your Tumblr blog can be automatically linked to from associated Facebook and Twitter accounts. The setting can be toggled on or off on a post-by-post basis using the icons on the post creation screen.

Social and community

Every Tumblr blog can follow other blogs in the style of Twitter, and be followed in return, with updated posts appearing in the main Tumblr dashboard.

New content can be easily discovered through the dashboard, and any post can be reblogged (similar to a retweet on Twitter).

Posts can also be "liked" and tagged to categorize them and make them easier to find. These social and community features make Tumblr a useful platform for both finding and promoting the content of interest.

Themes and customization

Every Tumblr blog makes use of a theme. An extensive gallery of free and paid themes is available from Tumblr as well as third-party sites such as ThemeForest.

Tumblr themes can be customized by editing the HTML or by adding extra CSS to the template. Many themes support the use of pages and embedded widgets alongside the main blog posts.

Tumblr blogs can also be hosted on a custom domain name if desired.

Features For Bloggers

PageIllustration. (via guidingtech.com)

It's free!

At Tumblr, you can publish your content with no bandwidth or storage limits. You can also modify your Tumblelog's design, publish group blogs, and use a custom domain, all for free.

At Tumblr, you can publish your content with no bandwidth or storage limits. You can also modify your Tumblelog's design, publish group blogs, and use a custom domain, all for free.

Customized design

A wide variety of themes are available for Tumblr users that you can tweak to customize your Tumblelog. You can also access all of the necessary HTML code to make any changes that you want to your Tumblelog's theme.

Because Tumblr is so customizable, you can be sure that your blog is much different than the other ones you might run into. This is perfect for anyone wanting to stand out from the crowd or express their creativity on their blog.

Custom domain

Your Tumblelog can use your own domain name so that it's truly personalized. For businesses, this enables you to easily brand your Tumblelog and make it appear more professional.

If you've already registered a domain name you love but you want to use Tumblr to edit your posts and actually host your website, it's really easy to do.

Publishing

You can publish text, high-res photos, videos, links, audio, slideshows, and more to your Tumblelog. Tumblr offers a variety of great publishing features that make it easy for you to publish any kind of content to your Tumblelog.

Here are some of Tumblr's publishing features:

Publish to your Tumblelog from email.

Publish to your Tumblelog via a text message from your phone.

Publish audio posts to your Tumblelog via phone.

Schedule your posts to publish in the future.

Use the handy bookmarklet to instantly share anything you see online via your Tumblelog.

Keep your entire Tumblelog or certain posts private.

Collaboration

You can invite multiple people to publish to the same Tumblelog. It's easy for them to submit posts, which you can review and approve before they are published.

Because Tumblr supports this type of collaboration, it's really easy to work together with business partners, family, and friends. Give everyone rights to your blog and they can post on Tumblr just like you can.

Pages

Make your Tumblelog look more like a traditional blog or website using customizable pages. For example, you might build a Contact Us page and an About page.

When you make pages on your Tumblr blog, it looks a bit more professional than a blog post. It's recommended to make pages on Tumblr if you're showcasing a product or service.

Search engine optimization

Tumblr uses a variety of functions to ensure your Tumblelog is search-engine friendly using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. This happens behind the scenes without any additional effort on your part.

When the right SEO details are set up, you'll get more traffic to your Tumblr blog and, hopefully, more interaction, too.

No ads

As if a free blogging platform isn't enough, Tumblr doesn't clutter your Tumblelog with ads, logos, or any other unwanted money-making features that can negatively affect your audience's experience.

This can't be said for most blogging platforms, so it's important when you're deciding on a blog platform, to realize that Tumblr can provide a clean interface for both you and your visitors by avoiding ads.

Apps

There are many experimental labs third-party apps available that can add even more features and functionality to your Tumblelog.

For example, there are entertaining apps that let you add speech bubbles with text to images, apps that can publish to Tumblr from an iPhone or iPad, apps that can instantly publish images from Flickr to your Tumblelog, and many more.

Social media integration

Tumblr integrates seamlessly with Twitter, Facebook, and Feedburner. Publish your posts to Tumblr and you can automatically publish them through your Twitter or Facebook account. If you prefer, you can pick and choose which posts to publish to Twitter and Facebook.

Tumblr is also an option in IFTTT. Connect Tumblr to IFTTT to do things like post a new blog update when a specific Twitter user posts something, or when a new item is posted to Twitter that matches a specific search term.

You can also easily invite people to subscribe to your blog's RSS feed and track analytics related to those subscriptions because Tumblr integrates with Feedburner.

Q&A

Tumblr offers a great feature that enables you to publish a Q&A box where your audience can ask you questions on your Tumblelog and you can answer them.

This is one of the best ways for your viewers to engage with you.

Copyrights

Tumblr's Terms of Service clearly states that all of the content you publish on your Tumblelog is owned and copyrighted by you.

You might think this is a common feature with all websites, but that's not true. Some blogging platforms might have you surrender the rights to your content when you post it on their website.

Support

Tumblr offers an online Help Center for anyone needing help understanding how to use Tumblr. There are tons of categories of help through that link.

It's also really easy to find help with Tumblr through that link. Just browse through the categories or search for something at the top of that page.

Analytics

Tumblr works with blog analytics tools like Google Analytics. Just set up your analytics account using your preferred tool and paste the provided code into your Tumblelog. That's all there is to it!

You'll be tracking your blog stats in no time.

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