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Tumblr’s TOS Changes, AO3, and You

Recently, Tumblr announced that it would be changing its terms of service to exclude adult content. OTW Legal has gotten some questions about that change, and we’re here to help answer them!

Will Tumblr’s change in TOS change anything about the Archive Of Our Own?

No–neither the AO3 nor the OTW (the nonprofit that operates the AO3) has any relationship at all with Tumblr. Tumblr made this decision on its own, not because of any particular change in the law that would have any impact on the AO3. The AO3 was founded on principles of “maximum inclusiveness” and those principles remain true.

Can we stop Tumblr from doing this? What about free speech?

When users sign up, they agree that Tumblr can make changes to its terms of service, and because Tumblr is a private company, it doesn’t have any obligation to protect free speech. So Tumblr is legally allowed to make this change, and there is nothing that OTW Legal can do about it. As for what users can do to stop Tumblr from changing its terms of service, the unfortunate answer is probably not much. The OTW’s This Week In Fandom post from December 4 discusses some user plans that may send a message to Tumblr. That said, Tumblr surely knows it will lose many users, and it has undoubtedly made a cost-benefit calculation that the lost users won’t be too harmful to its bottom line. (more…)

This Week in Fandom

This Week in Fandom, Volume 99

Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening. Today is a bit of a special edition–we’ll be talking exclusively about the continuation of The Tumblr Purge.

Yesterday, Tumblr made an announcement that, as of December 17th, 2018, it would ban “adult content, including explicit sexual content and nudity.” Tumblr’s new community guidelines specify further that “Certain types of artistic, educational, newsworthy, or political content featuring nudity are fine,” but things like “female-presenting nipples” are not, which has inspired some satirical memes. (more…)

This Week in Fandom banner by Katek

This Week in Fandom, Volume 98

Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening! Before we start, did you hear that the Doctor Who Christmas Special is becoming a New Year’s Special this year? What do you think? (I suspect my brother is unhappy, but maybe this means he’ll actually be mentally present while we’re opening gifts this year.)


This past week saw the release of the trailer for the upcoming film After, which is based on a novel adapted from a reader-insert One Direction fanfic. Reaction to the trailer has been mixed. While BuzzFeed News reports that fans are mostly excited, they also mention that some fans are cautioning about elements of the film that could be triggering for people sensitive to depictions of abusive relationships. (more…)