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Facebook censors gay retailer

Priape says site left hetero pages alone

YOUNG LOVE. Priape says it doesn't see how Facebook could object to photos like this.

Facebook has removed two pages from its site set up by the gay men’s retailer Priape.

Priape is headquartered in Montreal and has stores there and in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. The retailer also has an online site at Priape.com. Priape sells a variety of clothing, sex toys and porn.

Michael Ain, Priape’s director of marketing and sales, says Facebook is treating Priape differently than it does similar pages aimed at heterosexual audiences.

“I’ve found sites for women in bondage, women in latex,” he says. “Bondage, whips and chains training is on here. It’s all women. I have to wonder if it’s an antigay approach to the same stuff. I have to be curious as to what we’re doing in the gay community as opposed to what other groups are doing.”

Ain says Priape originally set up a Priape group on Facebook about eight months ago to promote the retailer’s clothing and fashion lines. He says the group had about 1,600 members when Facebook cancelled the page.

“Around late July they terminated the site without explanation,” he says. “Once they shut down the Priape group we started a fan page. Within a week and a half we had 4,000 members. We were very closely following the Facebook terms of use.

“About a month into it, it was flushed without explanation.”

Facebook did not reply to several requests from Xtra for an explanation of its decisions and whether they involved Priape’s gay content. An explanation Facebook emailed to Priape on Sep 14 does not provide clear grounds.

“The content on the Page you created is prohibited,” wrote Autumn of Facebook’s customer operations. “We do not currently allow content referencing, facilitating or promoting adult toys, videos or other adult products. Unfortunately we cannot reinstate this Page and ask that you do not recreate this page in the future.”

Ain says Facebook may have disapproved of the pages referring to Priape’s commerical website, but he refers to similarly themed Facebook pages like Latex Girls and Latex Clothes and Bondage for Everyone which point people to commercial websites.

Ain says Priape was careful not to put any porn or explicit images on its pages.

“We had photos of models in clothing,” he says. “We included photos of men in harnesses but only from the chest up. We have been reshifting our company to include the gay community outside of the fetish and hardcore communities. If you look around Facebook, it’s certainly no worse than a lot of pages.”

Ain says the loss of the Priape pages removes a resource for gay men around the world.

“Our group’s membership included several countries where queer cultures are still hidden, illegal or heavily frowned upon: Egypt, China, Iran and some areas of Africa,” he writes in an email. “I find myself the most disappointed that the international queer community loses an amazing resource when there is an obvious double standard to the reasons our group was terminated, as seen by the continued existence of similar heterosexual BDSM and fetish groups still existing on Facebook.”