A year after banning “female-presenting nipples”, Tumblr is much-diminished but still alive
The Atlantic reviews the state of Tumblr, where adult material was banned by new corporate owners, traffic collapsed, and the remains were sold for a pittance to Automattic, the company behind WordPress. It is down but far from out, Kaitlin Tiffany reports, with vibrant communities still thriving.
On one hand…
The biggest thing that’s changed [this year] is an overall lack of content with diverse and mature themes,” Cat Frazier, creator of the popular Tumblr Animated Text, writes to me in an email. “I never followed porn accounts, but many of the people I followed were either deleted or left the platform out of frustration last year. That’s left a noticeable gap. In fact a month ago I was scrolling through my followed accounts and about 100 of them hadn’t uploaded since the ban.”
… however ….
In late January, the “Shaggy’s Power” meme boomed. A transplant from Reddit, it featured screenshots of Matthew Lillard, the actor who played Shaggy in the 2002 live-action adaptation of Scooby-Doo, and captions portraying him as a god-like figure with a range of mysterious powers, swinging wildly between indiscriminate violence and pure benevolence. “You are reading this now because I compel you to,” the edited subtitle text on one still of Lillard reads. “You are never free.” (“I have no idea what the heart of it is,” Brennan says. “I think it’s just absurdist.”) It eventually expanded to include other actors from the movie, also praising Shaggy’s powers, and then to include Tumblr itself, in a discussion of the meta horror of a divine meme springing forth from seemingly nowhere.
tldr; Tumblr turned into 9Gag. There’s still a chance something new might grow out of the decline, but the people still living there might not want that.