Ever since Yahoo! purchased Tumblr earlier this year, people have been wondering what the tech giant will do about the huge amount of adult content on Tumblr. It turns out that Tumblr has been dealing with this on its own, by forcibly making adult content unsearchable by search engines.
First uncovered by ErosBlog (site NSFW), and recently covered by ValleyWag, Tumblr users who have their blogs marked as “adult” now find themselves with a blog that won’t be indexed by search engines, and with no option to change that. This is due to the fact that if your Tumblr is marked as adult, the company forcibly changes the robots.txt file (which controls how search engines see your content) so that they won’t trawl through your blog, and so the results won’t pop up on search engines.
Not only that, but the content won’t be indexed by Tumblr’s native search engine, so you can’t search from your dashboard either.
Strangely, the rules aren’t quite the same if your site is marked “NSFW” as opposed to “adult”, the former of which is for Tumblr blogs that contain occasional nudity, the latter for frequent. You are meant to flag your own blog one way or the other, but Tumblr might do it for you, and you have to reach out to Tumblr to try and get it changed.
Many photographers shoot a substantial amount of nudity, or work in adult industries. This move will make their work disappear from Google, and make cause it to be much, much harder to find. It’s a case of Tumblr attempting to have its cake and eat it too, by wanting to keep the substantial population of users with an interest in adult material, but not have it too far in the public eye. And if you’re a nude or glamour photographer, it’s your work that might suffer.