Remove Illegally Obtained Pornographic Photos from Website


Target: David Karp, CEO of Tumblr

Goal: Remove pornographic photos taken without the subjects’ consent from Tumblr

Web giant Tumblr is currently caught up in a controversy over its refusal to remove pornographic images of nonconsenting subjects from its website. Sign the petition and tell Tumblr that the rights and privacy of real victims are worth far more than a pigheaded adherence to Tumblr’s content removal policy.

This is a story containing many truly awful layers. Layer one: A hidden camera placed in a gas station men’s room captures footage of unwitting, nonconsenting men as they use the bathroom. Layer two: The video is uploaded to a porn website. Layer three: Stills from the video find their way to porn communities on Tumblr. Layer four: Tumblr refuses to remove the images, despite the fact that a police investigation has proven that the images were taken without their subjects’ knowledge or consent.

Tumblr’s content removal policy states that images may only be removed if a copyright holder or person featured in the images contacts the site’s team and requests the removal. However, the fact that the photos were obtained without consent is common knowledge; Tumblr is aware of both the photos’ origins and the police investigation surrounding them. The fact that Tumblr stubbornly refuses to take down the photos is insensitive and senseless. What is the purpose in forcing men who likely feel embarrassed, violated, and unsafe to name themselves as victims of this crime? Why can’t the fact that the photos were obtained without consent create a reasonable expectation of removal?

Normally, Tumblr’s removal policy is an effective way to safeguard its users’ freedom to share information. But its pigheaded refusal to delete content that was criminally obtained, and the fact that these images continue to actively distress many people is abhorrent. Sign the petition and demand that Tumblr remove the offending photos to the best of its ability.


Dear Mr. Karp,

I am writing to express my deep disappointment in Tumblr for its refusal to remove illegally obtained pornographic images from its website. The photos are a cause of much distress to many people and I demand their immediate removal.

The photographs in question were screencapped from videos on a porn website. The main problem with these videos, however, was that their subjects did not consent to being filmed–or even know they were being recorded. They were captured on camera using a toilet in a public restroom.

A man has since been charged for setting up the camera, but images from the crime are still floating around Tumblr, which is stubbornly refusing to remove the images unless the men featured in them request their removal. While I understand why Tumblr’s lenient content removal policy is in place, the extraordinary circumstances in this case are cause for an exception. A police investigation has proven that the images were obtained without consent. This, together with the private, embarrassing nature of the images, would imply that the men featured in them would like them to be removed. The fact that the images were illegally obtained should also constitute cause for an exception to Tumblr’s normal policy.

The men featured in these photos have already been victims of a gross violation of their privacy. Please don’t force them to face the further embarrassment and distress of identifying themselves to Tumblr’s team. Do the decent thing and remove the images immediately and to the best of your ability.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: MOILIP via Wikimedia Commons

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