They have clarified their changes in a positive way. Although the new terms do give Tumblr a stronger position from which to come down on extension developers and users, they have made very clear statements indicating they will continue to allow Tumblr browser extensions!
Thank you very much for taking the time to write us. Your feedback really does a tremendous amount to help us develop better policies for our community.
To answer your concern: We aren’t introducing any new policies regarding browser plug-ins.
Here’s some further clarification:
(1) The relevant language being updated appears in the draft Terms of Service under “Limitations on Automated Use”:
You may not do any of the following while accessing or using the Services:
… (c) access or search or attempt to access or search the Services by
any means (automated or otherwise) other than through our currently
available, published interfaces that are provided by Tumblr… (d) scrape
the Services, and particularly scrape Content (as defined below) from
the Services, without Tumblr’s express prior written consent
This is not a new restriction. You’ll find much harsher language in our current Terms of Service:
Subscriber shall abide by all copyright notices, information, and
restrictions contained in any Content accessed through the Services.
… Other than as expressly set forth in this Agreement, Subscriber may
not copy, modify, publish, transmit, upload, participate in the transfer
or sale of, reproduce (except as provided in this Section), create
derivative works based on, distribute, perform, display, or in any way
exploit, any of the Content, software, materials, or Services in whole or
We think the updates go a long way towards making the terms fairer and easier to understand.
(2) Similar language is standard for just about any web product out there. You’ll find similar clauses in the legal terms for using Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Kickstarter, to name a few.
The language is important for websites because it ensures, legally, that things like phishing attacks, DoS attacks, and automated crawling/repurposing of content (read: splogs) aren’t allowed. The restrictions shouldn’t reach applications that are built on top of those services in ways that positively enhance those platforms or communities.
(3) Most importantly: We obviously don’t want to take any punitive action on your account unless you’re doing something really bad. Anyone saying that “your blog is going to be deleted for X” or “reblog this or your account will be suspended” is almost certainly a troll. Suspensions usually happen because of things like spam and impersonation, as discussed more in our new Community Guidelines. We try to apply all of these policies with a tremendous amount of care and fairness.
(4) If you’ve used a browser plug-in with Tumblr before, you’ve probably seen how we’re already enforcing this policy. Users are asked to acknowledge the added risks associated with unsupported plug-ins – namely around privacy and reliability – and to accept the extra provision that our Support team will be unable to assist with any issues that arise. That’s it, and you’re back to blogging!
(5) This also doesn’t mean anything new for developers. We already block plug-ins that we catch doing anything egregious – that is usually stealing passwords or injecting ads.
“Page scraping”, which is a way of circumventing our developer tools to do things Tumblr doesn’t support, is always a grey area. We have to talk to developers occasionally when they step over the line by, for example, mishandling user data (re: privacy or integrity), introducing behavior that poisons our community (e.g., mass-messaging and unfollow notifications), or interfering with paid or promotional features.
The bigger consideration is that, as long as a developer is hacking Tumblr rather than using our developer tools, there’s no guarantee that those hacks will keep working properly.
While we’ve always been within our rights to deny access to anyone making unsupported modifications to Tumblr, we do our best to err on the side of openness. The more enthusiastic developers and happy users, the better.
TL;DR: No plans to suspend accounts for using plug-ins, and our current policies on plug-ins aren’t changing.
We hope this was helpful. Please let us know if you have any more thoughts or questions!