Why I Blocked Tumblr On My Home Network

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This past weekend I blocked access to Tumblr.com from my home wireless network.

Tumblr PornI’ve been blocking porn sites using OpenDNS for a long time. But Tumblr.com doesn’t fall into the category of porn site in the OpenDNS directory. It falls into the social media category. However, make no mistake, there is a large part of the Tumblr network this is dedicated to porn. Porn is actually part of Tumblr’s meteoric rise, and it’s easy to access.  Just do a simple search on Google for Tumblr and porn and you can see for yourself. Or go to Tumblr and search under the tag #erotic. Be warned, it’s not safe for work.

“We are facing an e-safety time bomb”

Tumblr is aware of their porn issues. In fact, Tumblr is doing everything it can to NOT get labeled a porn app in the iTunes store. And I believe Tumblr’s actions are a symptom of why Internet safety lessons are being urged for 5-year-olds.  “We are facing an e-safety time bomb,” Claire Lilley, of the NSPCC, said. “Young people tell us they are experiencing all sorts of new forms of abuse on scale never before seen.”

And while I have hosted JustDugUp.com on Tumblr since the first days of Tumblr’s launch, I have blocked access to it from within my house. It’s unfortunate. Tumblr has a lot of very redeeming qualities. And I have good friends who use Tumblr wisely for business.

Tumblr Should Be Doing More To Limit Porn Access To Children

As a popular social sharing site for teens and tweens, Tumblr should be doing more to provide parents with the tools and information they require to limit access to areas of their site that are overrun by porn, and limit the possibility of exposure to those seeking to prey on children. Or provide a way for sites like OpenDNS to help parents by selectively limiting access.

Why, besides the obvious? Here’s a staggering number, of the 3765 calls about internet abuse that came into the ChildLine last year, 250 involved children being groomed for sex. This was in the United Kingdom. I can only imagine what the numbers would be in the United States, with five times the population.

So, until Tumblr takes actions to limit access to porn by children, it will be blocked on my home network.

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  1. says

    What a damn shame. And I had no idea. I don’t use Tumblr as well as some other people. I use it for the occasional rant or stream of consciousness rambling and I’ve bounced around their categories but never stumbled or, should I say, tumbled onto the porn part of the site.

    It seems no place is safe. Facebook is full of political rantings. Twitter is full of people spewing links to their affiliate or eCommerce sites and also has its share of porn. I guess LinkedIn is OK, for the time being. Google+ seems to be OK but, heck, if Tumblr is a mecca for porn, my guess is Google+ has a ton of it.

    I guess that’s the price you pay for an open internet.

    Any thoughts on the gratuitous violence and sex (soft core porn) in video games, the movies and on TV? Can we put our children in a bubble until their old enough?

  2. says

    So what can Tumblr do limit access to areas that have porn?

    While I completely agree with what you are saying, there will never be a way for porn to be found on the interwebs w/o age verification.

    Want to be really scarred and scared from what is out there … signup for a proxied and VPN’d newsgroups account. The darkest and seediest underbelly of the net doesn’t use any of these new fangled websites (that much)

    What can we do?
    Teach our kids like our parents did about the bad areas of town.
    not to give out your phone number to strangers (don’t give out real info on the net)
    don’t answer the door if you are home alone (don’t accept anonymous chat requests)
    don’t feed the trolls (ignore the people that talk shit) = sticks and stones will never hurt me

    but still it’s scary … my 9 almost 10yr old is a youtube junkie (watches videos of Bionicles “legos” and minecraft)
    I check his history all the time
    both boys use Open dns and I block lots of stuff

    If my parents knew only some of the stuff I found on the internet BBS’s in the late 80’s early 90’s they would have had heart attacks

    What to do?
    open dialog
    teach them right
    pray that they listen
    monitor, monitor, monitor

    • says

      Loren, first, you nail it. Open dialog, teach them right, pray they listen, and monitor. One of the ways I monitor is to cut off the stuff that’s possible to cut off. Vine is also cut off right now.

      As for what can Tumblr do? Well, they can institute a community monitor system that flags accounts as porn, then move those accounts to a subdomain that would allow selective blocking. Technically it’s possible. They could create those same flags and require special login with a credit card that would insure, for the most part, that someone over 18 had approved going to the accounts. Or… they could just ban porn. And I don’t mean ban nudity when I say that. I don’t have an issue with nudity.

  3. says

    Jeff – thank you for all you are doing to keep us in the loop about this. We’ve got a few years before we have to really lock down our house – but your posts are keeping it front and center of mind.
    I’ve had to block some friends on Instagram due to porn they were liking. It seems every avenue that is out there for photo sharing is open to things like this…

  4. Michelle Poccia says

    Can I say that I am SO glad that my kids are grown and out of the house! I cannot imagine the dedication it takes to protect young children these days! I applaud you, Jeff (and others) for paying attention and yes, censoring what is coming into your homes and your children’s minds. Think of how many kids are out there unmonitored…sad to think about. Thanks for all these great thoughts. Thanks for leading by your example of doing something. Taking control in your own home…and sharing your knowledge with all of us.

  5. says

    One of the things I learned from my kids when they were first on MySpace- the social network of choice when my kids were young- is that they monitor their own circle of friends, and as parents I don’t know that we tap into that resource often enough. My daughter in particular told me her friends watched out for each other online and would call someone out that they didn’t know, or confront a friend if they were socializing in ways that they didn’t like. This peer pressure is both good and bad of course, but I did take some comfort in knowing that a close circle of responsible friends at that age is crucial to keeping our kids safe. That is a conversation I think more parents need to have. How do our kids watch out for each other? Do they have each other’s back? Do they have their own systems and code words in place if someone needs help? Sometimes I think those relationships can be just as much, if not more useful in keeping our kids safe.

    • says

      “How do our kids watch out for each other? Do they have each other’s back? Do they have their own systems and code words in place if someone needs help? Sometimes I think those relationships can be just as much, if not more useful in keeping our kids safe.” This is such great advice.

  6. Clifford Saint Claire the Beloved says

    Yea you know before the internet children and teens had no idea that sex existed. They never talked about it with their friends. They never saw pictures, movies or drawings of it. They certainly never had sex themselves. LOL!

    The western cult of the child has been the ideological battering ram that has been used to spearhead every drive against freedom of speech and information in the last three decades. Limiting what’s available to adults because uneducated/unsupervised children might get a hold of it makes about as much sense as eliminating liquor stores because some teen might buy some vodka with a fake ID.

    • says

      Yea you know, if porn on Tumblr were as difficult to get for my 10 year old as liquor at a liquor store, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. No one talking about limiting what’s available to adults here. Tumblr is a place where children and adults gather together, it’s not a liquor store, it’s not a sex shop, it’s not a strip club, and it’s not a clearly labeled porn site.

      And this isn’t about freedom of speech, or using children as an ideological battering ram. I’m not trying to eliminate porn. Consenting adults can do whatever consenting adults want to do. I’m saying, since you’re doing it in the same place my kids are invited to gather, I’m not letting my kids go there.

  7. HM says

    Everyone makes a lot of good points here; however, I don’t know if anyone is aware, but you can choose to block or blacklist certain keywords and hash tags. It’s how I keep my dash clean.

  8. Beth says

    Jeff, please explain how you used OpenDNS to block the domain for Tumblr for someone who is not extremely tech savvy. It is imperative that we block this on our Iphones as it is being used to access hardcore porn. Please help!

    • says


      When logged into OpenDNS, click on the settings tab. Select your home network and you will see in the middle of the page an option to “Manage Individual Domains.” It defaults to “always block” as the option, but you can change that to “never block” for any specific domain you choose. Just put in tumblr.com in that input field and save. That will do it. Let me know if that is not clear enough.

  9. Jimbo says

    Hi Jeff. Just found your article…

    What you explain to Beth in the comment above only serves to block tumblr.com itself does it not and not all of it’s subdomains? e.g. you’d still be able to access subdomain.tumblr.com which is the very problem. There are plenty of inappropriate Tumblr sites that you can access with ease.

    Unless I’m missing something, there’s no way to block all Tumblr sites. It would be impractical to add each individual unsuitable tumblr site you come across that is unsuitable as there are not only so many but new ones are cropping up all the time.

  10. Jimbo says

    Turns out I hadn’t configured my DNS quite right leading me to believe the subdomain changes I was making wasn’t taking effect when it actual fact it does do the trick. Ignore me everyone! Cheers, Jeff.

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