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Tumblr now offers a paid option to remove ads, still no porn though

Can we pay to bring back porn?

tumblr ad subscription
Image: Tumblr

It seems like only yesterday (2013) that Yahoo purchased Tumblr for $1.1 billion, promised not to screw it up, then screwed it up.

Then Verizon bought Yahoo and everything it owned a few years later for $4.48 billion. It also banned porn on Tumblr, effectively murdering the platform. Verizon then sold Yahoo and AOL to Apollo Global Management in 2021 for $5 billion combined (about half of what Verizon paid for the companies).

Tumblr wasn’t part of that deal, as it was already offloaded to Automattic in 2019 for a rumored $3 million, a pittance compared to what Yahoo paid for it, and a shell of its former self.

Logically, one would assume that Tumblr would just roll over and die, never to be heard from again. While it has struggled to maintain relevancy against sites like DeviantArt, which still allow adult content, Tumblr has not faded off into the Internet Archives permanently.

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We keep speaking of Tumblr as if it’s dead, a relic of the past, when that just isn’t true. According to SimilarWeb, Tumblr ranks in the top 75 in the United States on the list of most popular websites. It’s the 103rd most visited site in the world.

As of July 2021, Tumblr still hosted more than 529 million blogs. While Automattic has kept the adult content ban in place for some dumb reason, Tumblr bloggers are still a vibrant, active community.

Tumblr is now rolling out a paid ad-free option

weird tumblr ad with frog
Image: Cheezburger

Admitting that it is aware its ads are less nonsensical than the content on its platform (yet, still weird), Tumblr is now rolling out an option for Tumblr users to subscribe to an ad-free version of the platform for $4.99 a month.

In a blog post, the Tumblr team offered easy instructions on how to activate this feature. There is also a current deal for a 33% discount on the annual subscription cost.

You could argue that the strange ads on Tumblr are part of the overall experience. But you can’t ignore the impact of offering an option — even if paid — to remove ads from the popular blogging site.

It does hearken back to when we first started blogging back in the early 2000s on blog sites that no longer exist, where we basically had to slap our own ads in the sidebars and headers.

Ads were then forced upon us. Slowly at first, then rapidly. At some point, something clicked and sites on the internet became more ad than content.

Will anyone actually pay for this Tumblr feature?

Clearly, Tumblr is still being used enough to justify attempting to charge to remove ads from the site. It’ll be interesting to see how many users pay for this service. Could that money be used to improve the platform’s relevancy?

Tumblr has achieved a sort of cult status, but something is missing. It hasn’t been the same since it was an open and accepting place for adult content created by, well, everyone.

It’s all conjecture as to whether Automattic will once again allow adult content on the platform, or is working on a way to do so.

Many companies and sites take a ridiculously evangelical approach to adult content. It was always Tumblr that stood apart by not only allowing it, but creating a haven for it. And it did that without making it feel like just another porn site.

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