One of the first blogging sites I wrote about was Tumblr – Tumblr the new microblog on the block. It was over a year ago and I never did much with it. I liked the site but hated the amount of porn. My oldest, who has lots of friends on Tumblr, wanted to try it out. So, I decided to revisit Tumblr.
Tumblr makes it incredibly easy to set up a blog: sign up with an email, indicate your over 13, pick out a theme and your off. Many teens follow their favorite shows, movies and characters to find funny GIFs and photos. Unlike a traditional blog, there is no pressure to produce content. She can fill up her tumblelog with reblogs and quotes and never write a single sentence.
Once they have a tumblelog, they can search for other blogs to follow. This is where they can run into trouble. Common hashtags can lead to uncommon results. An article in buzzfeed lists the 11 seemingly safe tumblr tags you should never, ever look at. The number one tag is #bbc. Since my kid is a huge Dr. Who and Sherlock fan, I was curious about this one. It is true. #bbc is not all pictures of Dr. Who and Sherlock. It isn’t every picture but out of 20 posts at least one was a penis.
I tried to eliminate these pictures. In settings, I enabled the “Browse tag pages in Safe Mode” to hide content from NSFW (Not Safe for Work) blogs. The problem is Tumblr relies on people to correctly designate their blogs and posts and many do not. Even with NSFW enabled, inappropriate blogs and posts still came up in my search.
I installed the add-ons Tumblr Savior and Webfilter Pro to my browser. I blacklisted obvious search terms. Again, these filters rely on users tagging their pictures correctly. With so many terms and variations, I could not successful block every penis picture.
I can see why teenagers love Tumblr. It is easy to set up and they can blog and reblog all their favorites. Teens on Tumblr should be careful about who they follow and their searches. Parents should test drive this site. Set up your own tumbleblog and conduct a few searches. If your teen is on Tumblr, talk with them about the seedy side of the internet. Let them know what your concerns are and what you want them to do when they see something inappropriate.