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January 29, 2023
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John Green is back on Tumblr years after stepping away

John Green returned to Tumblr over the holidays, nearly eight years after backlash from some users prompted him to step away from the site.

“The Fault in Our Stars” author, who was known for using the platform to connect with his fanbase, left the platform in 2015. Amid controversy over how he directly responded to criticism of his work, a Tumblr user reblogged one of his posts and altered the text to be sexually explicit, so that Green appeared to have written it. The edited post went viral and inspired others to reblog Green’s posts with absurd statements.

That same year, Tumblr changed its editing features so that users could no longer edit the original text of the posts that they reblog. In 2018, Green addressed rumors that his departure from the site prompted Tumblr to remove the ability to edit reblogged posts. He tweeted at the time that he “never talked to anyone at tumblr about how to make their web site better.”

Green returned to Tumblr in December to promote the Awesome Coffee Club, a subscription coffee brand that he started with his brother Hank Green. The two, who were behind the first-ever VidCon, rose to fame online with their VlogBrothers YouTube channel.

In recent posts, John Green joked that he is “brand new to tumblr and definitely never used the service before.” Instead of returning to Tumblr with his old account, Green said he is posting as “a coffee company that isn’t a person.”

Profits from the Awesome Coffee Club, which launched last year, benefit organizations dedicated to reducing infant and maternal mortality in Sierra Leone.

“I am just a coffee company that donates its profit to charity,” Green wrote in response to a user asking if it was really him. “But every brand on the Internet has some poor sap running their social media accounts, and the poor sap who runs this one is named John Green.”

Representatives for John Green and the Awesome Coffee Company did not immediately respond to request for comment.

It’s still a running joke among many online spaces that Tumblr users “bullied” Green off the site. In the years since the incident, Green seems to have leaned into it. When Elon Musk took over Twitter late last year, Green tweeted, “It’s as if in 2014, I’d been like, ‘I’ll just buy tumblr.'” He also poked fun at the Twitter Blue subscription fee, writing, “$8 a month to edit reblogs.”

In another recent Tumblr post, Green described himself as an “unpaid social media intern” because he isn’t paid to promote Awesome Coffee Club on Tumblr. Unlike corporations that “anonymize their social media admins” to make their “labor invisible,” Green said that the brand aspires to “make every part of the labor chain more visible.”

One user asked why Green wasn’t given a “higher rank” in running the brand than “social media intern.”

“Thanks for the kind words, but I am happy with my current role,” John Green wrote. “Being the unpaid CEO of the Awesome Coffee Club, which is my brother’s job, seems like a lot of work.”

Online, many have noticed and pointed out John Green’s Tumblr return.

“john green is back on tumblr the world is healing,” one Twitter user wrote.

“John Green returning to Tumblr is already everything I had dreamed it would be and more,” another user wrote.

“John Green is back on tumblr the 2014ication of this decade is complete,” another person tweeted.

Morgan Sung

Morgan Sung is a trends reporter for NBC News Digital.

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