Facebook accused of ‘queer erasure’ as Naked Boys Reading page deleted

The organisers behind London-based event Naked Boys Reading have expressed their frustration after having their Facebook page deleted on Tuesday after six years online.

Update: Facebook has since restored the page. Read more here.

Naked Boys Reading (NBR) is an intimate live event that sees performers read out excerpts from books on stage whilst completely nude.

Performed in venues, such as the Ace Hotel and The Yard in London, the small collective might seem an unlikely target of Facebook’s censorship but now see themselves unfortunately joining a list alongside InfoWars’ Alex Jones and homophobic abusers.

NBR’s founder Justin Hunt logged onto Facebook on Tuesday to post details about an upcoming open mic event and found that the group’s page had been deleted completely.

Speaking to PinkNews, Hunt said that he was “enraged for the way in which a closed platform continues to police and censor queer aspects of our culture.”

He added that the page consisted “primarily as a space to promote upcoming events,” while also featuring appropriately-positioned and safe-for-work (SFW) photos from their events.

Naked Boys Reading’s Facebook page had been up six years. (Manu Valcarce)

Hunt believes that the ban came from the fact that the name features the keywords “naked” and “boys,” but that it could be way bigger than that.

“I see this as part of a queer erasure by Facebook over the past year if not two,” Hunt said. He added that, in his eyes, “the queer erasure arises through at least the policing of sex positive and queer signifiers and removal of queer as a possible event tag.”

Dealing with Facebook’s high standards isn’t anything new for NBR. Hunt said that they’d received notifications of content not matching community standards throughout the six years the Facebook page has been online, revealing that “about six months ago our logo, which was up from the first year as our main photo, was reported as going against community standards.”

Hunt said that the process with Facebook has become routine over the last few months—the page would be suspended and he would have to appeal the suspension before getting it reinstated.

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Since sharing the news of the deletion, many other queer arts and queer nightlife organisations have come forward with their own experiences of censorship on the platform.

“Hard Cock Life, an event that also works out of Ace Hotel in London, had to change their name which has limited their brand reach,” Hunt said.

Other club nights to have their page completely deleted include Dirty Diana and Deep Trash, whilst Daddy Issues and Vogue Fabrics Dalston (vFd) both mentioned struggling with posting and ad generation.

Phoebe Patey-Ferguson, who works at vFd, said on Facebook that “social media is this really f***ed up thing that we conceive of as a public ‘social space’ when actually it’s a privately-controlled world of rules that would never pass in our current legal or moral climate.”

“We have no way of protesting within this space, and it’s totally authoritarian and fascistic really, all whilst they send you cute videos about FRIENDIVERSARYS,” said Patey-Ferguson.

Further expressing his upset at the removal, Hunt added that “Facebook is a business tool and we all want to use it in that way; but we want diversity in how these tools can be employed.”

He concluded that it was unfair that there was “no recourse to discussion with this strange monolith that removes queer experience from its digital platform.”

Update: Facebook have since restored the page and released a statement, which can be read here.

This article was updated to correct a typo in the name of Inforwars’ Alex Jones.

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