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The suicide of a British teenager, Tallulah Wilson, raised the issue of suicide and self-harm promotion on Tumblr as Wilson was reported to have maintained a self-harm blog on the site.A user on the site is reported to have sent Wilson an image of a noose accompanied by the message: "here is your new necklace, try it on." In response to the Wilson case, Maria Miller, the UK's minister for culture, media and sport, said that social media sites like Tumblr need to remove "toxic" self-harm content.

In an interview with Nicole Lapin of Bloomberg West on September 7, 2012, David Karp said the site was monetized by advertising.As addressed in these policies, we are constantly taking measures to ensure our users can avoid this content unless they'd like to see it.Anyone can opt-in by disabling Safe Mode in their Dashboard Settings.Tumblr Head of Sales, Lee Brown, has quoted the average ad purchase on Tumblr to be nearly six figures.On December 3, 2012, Tumblr was attacked by a cross-site scripting worm deployed by the Internet troll group Gay Nigger Association of America.Tumblr also offered a "fan mail" function, allowing users to send messages to blogs that they follow.

On November 10, 2015, Tumblr introduced an integrated instant messaging function, allowing users to chat between other Tumblr users.

In addition, a reported 16.45% of blogs on Tumblr exclusively contain porn.

Tumblr's Community Guidelines permits adult-oriented content but requires that blogs that contain occasional or substantial adult content to be flagged as such.

In February 2016, the Indonesian government temporarily blocked access to Tumblr within the country because the site hosts pages that carried porn.

The government shortly reversed its decision to block the site and said it had asked Tumblr to self-censor its pornographic content.

Although some users had requested such a change to combat posts made illegible by extremely large numbers of comments on a reblogged post, the majority of users (even those who had requested such a change) criticized the new format.