Tumblr's New Owners Better Bring Back The 00s Internet Golden Age Kthxbye

Will the sexy Transformers fan art be returned, though?

Remember Tumblr? That microblogging site you lived your life on, and then abruptly never went to again as other alternatives made themselves available? Well, thanks to new owners, the good times are coming back! Possibly!

At least, it’ll be interesting to see what Tumblr’s new owners do with it because the current ones seemed to miss what people used it for.

Mobile company Verizon (owners of Yahoo, another internet reverse-success story) paid a billion American dollars for the platform in 2013 and proceeded to clean it of all its sexiness in December last year, using notoriously unsophisticated AI which had trouble doing things like distinguishing nipples from flowers and went “eh, delete the whole lot, everyone will be fine with that”.

Verizon’s CEO.

Oddly enough, in removing the stuff that its users wanted to see and share the traffic took a hit – as in, millions of users fled – and now the site is going to Automattic Inc (owners of WordPress) for rather a lot less than it sold for.

How much less? Reportedly below the US$3 million mark. Which is a profit of minus a billion dollars, give or take.

The bargain-basement price reportedly drew interest from Pornhub, who would presumably have been down with bringing back all the sexy stuff, since they’ve been busily becoming the go-to pornographers for free speech protection.

However, the sale to Automattic was reportedly conditional on them not allowing a content change, which is a genuine missed opportunity.

Sure, there was a lot of weird stuff on there – fan-made art of sexy Transformers was always going to be a niche interest we sincerely hope – and would need some sophisticated efforts to weed out illegal stuff.

However, the old platform was also a sex-positive meeting place for a lot of marginalised communities who have been left further isolated by the stifling effect of the FOSTA/SESTA laws in the US on sexual expression.

Anyway: ball’s about to be in your court, Automattic. Once that deal’s signed, how’s about returning Tumblr to its golden age? Carn.

Spoiler: There Is No Incognito Mode For Your Saucy Video Viewing, Google And Facebook Know

Nothing pure can stay.

So, as a savvy internet user with a keen appreciation for the human form, you’ve been confidently swapping to incognito mode in Google Chrome whenever you feel the need to… um, explore your innermost imagination. Groinally, we mean.

He gets it.

And you’ve been quietly confident that your salty secrets have been safe, and you know what heartbreaking news is coming next.

Yes, it turns out that those companies which have lied to you about how secure your data is and whether or not they’re collecting and using it have been lying to you about the security of your data and collecting and using it. WHO COULD HAVE GUESSED???

A new study entitled Tracking sex: The implications of widespread sexual data leakage and tracking on porn websites is currently in pre-print, in which researchers from Microsoft, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Pennsylvania looked at data tracking tools in porn sites and found there are loads of them, feeding data back to companies like Google, Facebook and Oracle.

And incognito mode stops that data being stored on your computer, it’s true… but not from these data trackers.

And because few porn sites are encrypted it means that other companies can presumably exploit site security to access said trackers themselves.

And why is this an issue? Let’s look at the study’s abstract:

“We identify three core implications of the quantitative results: 1) the unique/elevated risks of porn data leakage versus other types of data, 2) the particular risks/impact for vulnerable populations, and 3) the complications of providing consent for porn site users and the need for armative consent in these online sexual interactions.”

In other words: people can be outed, this can be devastating for particular groups of people depending on where they live, and this is being done without clear consent.

Honestly, people. VPNs. Get onto it.

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