Facebook restores Naked Boys Reading page amid ‘queer erasure’ backlash

London-based event Naked Boys Reading has had its Facebook page restored, after organisers accused the social media platform of “queer erasure” by deleting it.

PinkNews reported on October 3 that the Facebook page for the intimate live event—which sees performers read out excerpts from books on stage whilst completely nude—was taken down. Organisers said they believed it was “part of a queer erasure by Facebook over the past year if not two.”

In a statement to PinkNews on Friday, Facebook  confirmed the page had now been restored and was initially taken down for reports of policy violation.

“As a global platform, we are always balancing the needs of people from different cultural backgrounds whilst also being a place where people can share openly. This page was removed because multiple posts violated our Community Standards for nudity. However, we are now aware of the artistic purpose behind this page so we have restored it and apologise for any inconvenience,” said a Facebook spokesperson.

Facebook’s Community Standards for nudity restricts the display of nudity or sexual activity because “some people in our community may be sensitive to this type of content.”

Responding to the page’s reinstatement, Naked Boys Reading wrote on its Facebook page: “While we’re of course delighted that we can more easily communicate with those that have chosen to like and follow our page, we still feel that Facebook policies and procedures support queer erasure through censorship (often, perhaps, meant to stop homophobia).

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

“Facebook also doesn’t seem to enable best business practices in terms of its comms strategy – and that’s something that we buy into when we use and engage with the platform. Their stronghold is weakening as a social media goliath, so how they manage/maintain/control the usage of their site becomes more despotic.”

The statement also stated that they had received no communication from Facebook about the deletion and subsequent restoration of the page.

NBR’s founder Justin Hunt discovered the page, which was used “primarily as a space to promote upcoming events,” had been deleted when he logged in to post an update in early October. Facebook gave no indication to Hunt that the page would be deleted, he said.

Speaking to PinkNews, Hunt said he felt that social media platforms were policing queer content.

“The queer erasure arises through at least the policing of sex-positive and queer signifiers and removal of queer as a possible event tag,” said Hunt.

The deletion of the NBR page saw many other queer arts and queer nightlife organisations come forward to share how their own content had also been previously deleted or reported. Phoebe Patey-Ferguson, who works at Vogue Fabrics Dalston (vFd), described it as “totally authoritarian and fascistic really.”