(Credit: Lance Whitney)

Tumblr is alive and well in Apple's iOS App Store once again as the deadline looms for a ban of all "adult" content.

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In an update to its Help Center, Tumblr confirmed the iOS app's reappearance on December 12, saying that it was again available for download in the App Store and thanking people for their patience. The return of Tumblr comes just a few days ahead of a ban of all pornographic content announced by the company in early December. Though the ban won't officially start until December 17, Tumblr has already been busy flagging posts and images deemed unacceptable under the new guidelines.

The app's revised description in the App Store states that "this particular update also includes changes to Tumblr's Community Guidelines, which prohibit certain kinds of content from being shown on Tumblr." Those guidelines ban specific types of adult-oriented content, including images, videos or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples as well as images, videos, GIFs or illustrations that depict sex acts.

Tumblr's iOS app disappeared from the App Store in mid-November. At first, the company was mum about the reason behind the vanishing act, saying simply that it was working to resolve the issue. Based on information from independent sources, Download.com was the first to report that the app was flagged for allowing child pornography on its platform, a situation that occurred when such content got past the site's automated filters.

Did the App Store removal factor into Tumblr's decision to ban adult content? Download.com's independent source has said that they heard the app removal didn't affect the decision to ban all pornographic content, only that it sped up the timeline.

Tumblr has long prided itself on being an open environment where people could freely express themselves, and that has included the posting and sharing of adult content and images. But that openness got the company into hot water with countries such as Indonesia and South Korea, both of whom tried to get Tumblr to remove and regulate pornographic content. The app's ouster from the App Store in November put Tumblr in an even more difficult position, leading it to enact the new ban of pornographic content.

But now Tumblr faces two key challenges in its effort to make the site more safe and comfortable.

First, Tumblr risks alienating users who enjoyed the free and unfettered landscape in which they could share adult content and topics. Chiming in on social media, many Tumblr users have already decried the ban, labeling it as censorship and an overreaction.

Second, Tumblr is using automated filters as well as human editors to try to distinguish inappropriate posts and images from acceptable content. The guidelines state that certain types of artistic, educational, newsworthy and political content featuring nudity are fine. A specific example cited by CEO Jeff D'Onofrio in his blog post announcing the ban is a statue of David, which would still be allowed.

But according to several users on Twitter and elsewhere, the site has been flagging their supposedly safe content as unsafe and in violation of the new guidelines. That puts such users in a vexing position of having to appeal Tumblr's decisions. In his blog, D'Onofrio did acknowledge that there would be mistakes in this regard.

Download.com contacted Tumblr and Apple for comment and will update the story with any further details.

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  1. Tumblr's iOS app is back in the App Store following its removal after allowing child pornography through its filters.
  2. The app's return comes just days ahead of the site's announced ban of all adult content that violates its new guidelines.

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Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books - "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time" and "Teach Yourself VISUALLY LinkedIn."