Tumblr is a photo-sharing app that while it has many normal, healthy, and legitimate uses also as developed an infamous reputation for having people share photos of minors engaged in sexual activity. In response to this trend and because of a seeming inability to monitor what has become the proliferation of said images, the Apple Store has removed the app from its online store:
The Apple app store pulled the popular social media site Tumblr from its listings last week after illegal pictures of children made it through their safeguards.
Tumblr said in a statement, “We’re committed to helping build a safe online environment for all users, and we have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to media featuring child sexual exploitation and abuse.
The social media site said it plans to work with industry peers and partners like the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to monitor uploaded content and address the “industry-wide problem.” Even with this plan, however, the app has not been restored since it was dropped on Friday.
Whenever someone uploads an image to Tumblr, it is automatically scanned against a database of known child sexual abuse material.
Anything that comes up as a match never makes it onto the website.
It wasn’t until a routine audit that Tumblr discovered that photos that were not in the database had made it online.
The website said it immediately removed the images.
“Content safeguards are a challenging aspect of operating scaled platforms,” Tumblr said in a statement. “We’re continuously assessing further steps we can take to improve and there is no higher priority for our team.” (source, source)
Note the statement in bold.
One can also see it in the original press release from Tumblr:
Who “owns” this “database?”
Where is this database located?
Who oversees this database, and what safeguards are there in place concerning it?
The real story here is not the app, but the admission that somewhere in the world there is a server filled with child sexual abuse material as a veritable archived library and which companies can and apparently do routinely access to “check” such information, that is owned by somebody and yet nobody knows who it is or who has oversight.
It is good to be vigilant about such matters. However, the saying that “sunlight is the best disinfectant” is also true, especially in matters of handling grave evils. It has already been shown that major companies, such as Facebook, sell the data they have to whoever will pay the most for it. They gay cruising app Grindr has been caught selling private data about its users. What would make Tumblr any different, regardless of what they say?
It is a fact that blackmail has been used throughout human history to compel others to do their will. What better blackmail is there than a man of power caught committing what is objectively so (and culturally for now) a heinous deed?
What is also to keep somebody from selling materials on said database, be it an individual or company, to the one who will pay the most?
The situation with Tumblr is just the surface, because there is a lot more underneath.