When was the last time you actually saw the Facebook log-in page?
Other than those few times you might be accessing the social network on another computer, there’s a good chance that you don’t really see this page all that often. I know that for me, between mobile apps and just staying logged in on all the time, I rarely ever actually log into my social media manually.
Potential security issues notwithstanding, I wonder if there’s potentially some value in taking a look at these forgotten log-in pages every once in a while. It’s these web locations where each social media platform really articulates itself in a concise fashion, and attempts to encourage more people to register accounts. In other words, these log-in pages are often a place where the platform explicitly states how it envisions itself, and how it chooses to describe what it provides to its users.
I’m currently working on my M.A. thesis where I am examining the “Tumblr Porn Ban” and the conflict that emerged between Tumblr (the platform) and its users. My gut feeling is that part of the reason that Tumblr’s updated adult content policy prompted such negative backlash is that it represented a sudden change in how the social media platform was presenting itself to its users. Whereas the platform had generally articulated itself and its purpose in terms of its users (e.g. through phrases like “You are Tumblr.”) this was suddenly a moment where the platform itself was suddenly defining the platform in ways that had not been done previously. And the log-in pages of various social media platforms are one place where we can see how Tumblr had previously been distinct from other websites.
Take, for instance, the log-in page from Facebook. Here, the social media giant asserts that it is a place for users to “connect with friends and the world around [them].” This is the primary thing that Facebook is for, or at least the primary way that the platform would like to be thought of.
Facebook is not the only social media platform that articulates itself in such explicit terms on its log-in page. Venmo, GroupMe, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat each use their respective log-in pages to define themselves.
Each of the above social media defines itself and articulates what it is for in just a few sentences. And, most importantly, it is the platform itself that is defining itself. While it is ultimately users and their content that provides value to each of the platforms, it is still the platform itself that it providing the definition.
However, for Tumblr, its log-in page and articulation was somewhat different. The log-in page still provides a broad overview of what Tumblr is for, the purpose and character that is articulated here is significantly more open-ended.
On the first of the log-in page’s multiple slides, the website invites individuals to “come for what [they] love” and to “stay for what [they] discover.” Unlike other social media platforms, there is not one specific thing that the platform is for.
Facebook is for connecting with friends and the world. Twitter is for seeing what’s happening now. LinkedIn is for a professional community. But Tumblr is for whatever each individual user chooses to make it.
This user-centric articulation of the platform’s purpose is even more apparent on a later slide, which explicitly states that “Tumblr is blogs.” Each individual user and their blog defines what the platform is; it is not a case of Tumblr defining what its platform is and then individual user blogs conforming to this.
Put another way, Tumblr had always defined itself in terms of its users. The individual users that make up the Tumblr community had defined what the overall “feel” and ethos of Tumblr was. It was theirs in a way that other social media platforms simply weren’t. This may be one reason that when Tumblr announced its new adult content policy its users responded so negatively. Not only was it a significant change to what the web community had once meant, it was a case where Tumblr (the platform) was suddenly defining itself in ways that had not been done previously.