The Asian nation of Indonesia just announced that it has banned Tumblr, the popular microblogging social network, because of its porn content. But the Indonesia Tumblr ban is just the tip of the country’s conservative anti-porn and anti-LGBTQ crusade.
The Indonesian Ministry of Technology and Information reportedly received multiple notices about Tumblr’s “obscene content” and found over 360 Tumblr accounts devoted specifically to porn. After sending a letter in February requesting that the New York-based company remove all pornographic content within 48 hours, the Ministry received no response and decided to ban the platform altogether.
Although Tumblr has a porn-filtering “safe mode” for users, porn searches still drive an estimated 20% of Tumblr’s overall traffic.
This isn’t the first time that Indonesia has blocked a website due to pornographic content. Channelnewsasia.com reports that after passing a tough 2008 anti-porn law criminalizing any obscene content, they blocked the video-sharing platform Vimeo for porn in 2014.
In November 2017, Indonesia asked Facebook and the social messaging app WhatsApp to any obscene GIFs from their services. The government also recently banned a gay dating app after asking Google to remove 73 LGBTQ apps from its Indonesian Google Play store.
Indonesia’s recent anti-porn fervor is the result of increasingly powerful, conservative Islamic leaders holding sway over the nation’s politicians. After passing its 2008 anti-porn law, police cracked down on porn vendors in the nation’s capital marketplace and even imprisoned male celebrity singer Nazril Irham for three and a half years after leaked sex tapes of Irham and his celebrity girlfriends went viral.
Female and moderate protestors against Indonesia’s anti-porn crackdown call the 2008 law a violation of the freedom of expression guaranteed in the Indonesian constitution. They also say the law is too vague, potentially criminalizing “drawings, photographs, text, voice and gestures.”
The anti-porn crackdown also comes on the heels of an Indonesian government crackdown on LGBTQ people including publicly humiliating 141 men arrested in a gay sauna, establishing an anti-LGBTQ police force in the nation’s capitol, proposing a law to ban all LGBTQ TV content, calling LGBTQ identity “a mental disorder,” trying to shut down an international gay sporting event, recently arresting 12 transgender women and shaving their heads to “make them men” and considering a law that could criminalize gay sex as early as April.
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