Saturday, October 21, 2017

Korean government emails to Tumblr: you're becoming a "porn site"

For you addicts who can't get enough lewd content on Tumblr (I'm looking at you, certain Reddit users), you probably already know that the Korean government is on to you, and has been (unsuccessfully) requesting that Tumblr proactively remove and prevent such content. Several articles have gone up in English about it:

ZDNet Korea had an article up about it, rehashing the same basic ideas. But it also included this adorable transcript of an excerpt from the Korea Communications Standards Commission official emails to Tumblr about the matter. You may know the KCSC as the friendly folks behind those bold blue WARNING notices when you visit a blocked site in Korea.

Exchange between Korean KCSC and Tumblr. Image: ZDNet Korea 

Here's that text:

[KCSC email to Tumblr]

Recently, a lot of sexually explicit videos are being uploaded on Tumblr. It has emerged as a big social issue, Tumblr has been mistaken for a new porn site in South Korea.  KCSC( is working with Google, Facebook and Twitter in order to respond to illegal contents. We hope to cooperate with Tumblr, too.If you don't have a contact point in South Korea, please let me know other possible contacts.

최근에 많은 성적으로 노골적인 동영상이 텀블러에 업로드되고 있습니다. 텀블러는 한국에서 새로운 포르노 사이트로 오해받게 되었고, 큰 사회적 이슈로 떠올랐습니다. KCSC(방송통신심의위원회)는 불법 콘텐츠에 대응하기 위해 구글, 페이스북, 트위터와 협력하고 있습니다. 우리는 텀블러와도 협력하기를 희망합니다. 한국에 연락 지점이 없으면 가능한 다른 연락처를 알려주십시오.

[Tumblr's response]

Please note that Tumblr is a US company regulated by US law. Tumblr has no physical presence in South Korea, and is not subject to its jurisdiction or laws. Additionally, Tumblr is a service that enables broad freedom of expression and therefore hosts a wide variety of content, including adult-oriented material. We have reviewed the reported content, but as it does not violate our policies, we will not be taking action at this time.

텀블러는 미국 법률에 규제받는 미국 회사입니다. 텀블러는 대한민국에서 실제 존재하지 않으며 관할권이나 법률의 적용을 받지 않습니다. 또한 텀블러는 광범위한 표현의 자유를 허용하여 성인 중심의 자료를 비롯한 다양한 콘텐츠를 호스팅하는 서비스입니다. 신고 된 콘텐츠를 검토했지만 우리의 정책을 위반하지 않으므로 현재로서는 조치를 취하지 않을 것입니다.

최명길 위원 "'음란정보' 온상 텀블러(Tumblr), 방심위 협력요청 거절" | 정치 | 국회/정당 | 한경닷컴

The article also had this table of takedown requests for prostitution and obscene content. Look at that exponential growth on Tumblr in the red. Remember that last number is just up through June of this year. 

2012~6/2017 KCSC Prostutution/Obscenity Takedown Requests. Image: ZDNet Korea

Well, duh. Facebook and Instagram don't allow obscene content anyway, so no surprise for low numbers there. Twitter is hardly the best medium for posting dirty videos, but I also feel like those numbers mimic user activity on Twitter anyway. Lot of my friends gave up on it completely. I almost have done so. Tumblr, meanwhile, is full of XXX content, and not just for Korea, but generally. Seriously, take a look, and you'll wonder just how Tumblr isn't a porn site. It's more like Playboy's golden era: lots of liberal-leaning content and activists, and lots of gratuitous nudity.

I actually get what the KCSC is trying to do here. And this isn't new: it goes back nearly 10 years.

But if you ask me, if the government really wants to crack down, they ought to look closer to home. Tumblr is just where lewd content gets reposted, but a lot of that content is created, shared, and abused right on messengers like KakaoTalk and Line. Look at some of these stories of the past month:

All involve chat apps. This isn't just your horny 15 year old in bed at night. This is life threatening underage prostitution and exploitation. It's not on a screen. It happens to real people, often runaway teen girls.

Chat rooms and Bands are the lifeblood of  these kind of illegal underage sex crimes. I'm not saying all chats should be monitored, or that I've got the answers. I'm just some guy with a blog. But if the goal is to reduce the real world harm of prostitution and porn, then maybe the energy associated with this latest Tumblr crusade should be refocused where it really counts.

Finally I can't talk about Tumblr without a nod to the old Posts from Dokdo. Maybe I should reactivate that thing. Nah.

Update: See too this article from Korea Expose coincidentally put up around the same time as this post.
🔗 "There could be one of you": S. Korea's Spycam Porn Epidemic | KOREA EXPOSÉ

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