South Korea may block access to Tumblr
Standards commission says it is asking the company to address the 10 per cent of its content being pornographic
By Jung Min-ho
The South Korean government will review whether to block access to Tumblr, a blogging platform company based in New York City, if it continues to turn a blind eye to illegal content.
The Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC), the country’s internet censorship body, said Tuesday that it will consider the option, though it will not take immediate action.
“About 10 per cent of its content is pornographic,” KCSC Vice Chairman Heo Wook told reporters. “It is also an important matter for Tumblr’s brand image. We will ask the company again to resolve the issue.”
“If you ask me whether it is appropriate to block access, it’s not there yet,” he said. “But we will consider blocking Tumblr if the problem becomes serious.”
His statement came following revelations that the firm rejected the KCSC’s request to regulate sexually explicit content on its platform.
“Tumblr is a U.S. company regulated by U.S. law. Tumblr has no physical presence in South Korea and is not subject to its jurisdiction or laws,” it responded to the KCSC.
Tumblr has become one of the most popular platforms for adult content here over the past few years in large part because of its “looseness.”
The company is known for embracing “reblogging” or the sharing of content; unlike Facebook, users are not required to reveal their real names to log in, but only an email address. This characteristic has made it very popular, especially for people who want to present different personalities through different blogs — both as content creators and consumers.
But this feature has also made it easy to share illegal content behind a curtain of anonymity.
From January to June, the KCSC sent Tumblr more than 22,000 requests to delete posts that were either obscene or linked to the sex trade. It accounted for 74 per cent of all its requests. During that period, Twitter received 1,771, Instagram 12 and Facebook 5.
In 2015, Twitter received the most revision requests from the KCSC for such content, accounting for more than 20 per cent. But the following year, it gave up the top spot to Tumblr, which was responsible for 58 per cent of all requests that year.
Revenge porn and child porn are among materials available on Tumblr, to which anyone, including elementary school students, have easy access.