Elaine Miller says she can't understand how the image of a woman's panty-clad ass can be considered offensive, but Facebook pulled the photo and sent her a warning.

"I don't think much of censorship," says Miller, a leatherdyke who hosts a variety of BDSM events for queen women in Vancouver.

Miller says Facebook pulled the photo announcing next month's Bride of Pride play party on June 12, then sent her an online warning explaining how she had violated the site's "terms of use."

"Facebook does not allow photos that attack an individual or group or that contain nudity, drug use, violence or other violations of terms of use," the message informed her.

This policy is enforced in order "to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users, including the many children who use the site," the message added.

When asked to explain why this particular photo was removed, a Facebook spokesperson told Xtra: "We literally have dozens of content standards, and respond to user reports of inappropriate content. We have a policy against nudity and in such cases, have removed photos that have been flagged to us by Facebook users. The particular photo in question exposes the naked buttocks of a female and violates our terms for appropriate content. When flagged, all reports are closely reviewed and action is taken if photos are deemed offensive. These standards are in place as a safety precaution for all Facebook users."

But Miller sees no harm in the poster.

"Fuck censorship," she says. "I'm not advocating hate; I'm advocating love." Censoring nudity puts a chokehold on healthy adult sexuality — especially for some queers who still find it difficult to appreciate images of queer nudity, she points out.

Rather than turn the other cheek, Miller re-posted the photo with a large "censored" banner over the nude ass stating: "Facebook didn't like her bum but we do!"

Facebook has not pulled the amended photo but Miller continues to question the social networking site's rationale behind censoring nudity.

John Ince, of BC's Sex Party, says he is not surprised the original photo was pulled.

Censorship of nude imagery is "standard policy" for online networking sites like Facebook and Youtube, he says.

"Mass viewing sites believe they have to draw the line somewhere," he says, adding the problem with censorship lies in exactly where and how that line is drawn.

While Ince believes some censorship is needed in society to prohibit the distribution of child pornography and to prevent defamation, he defends the freedom to publicly display images of adult nudity.

"The sight of nudity does not cause harm," he insists. "It's the prohibition of nudity that causes harm. It teaches people the fear of genitals."

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