With censorship ever-increasing in digital spaces, hookup site Squirt.org have hit back with a campaign titled #CensorshipSucks.
Tougher community guidelines on social media have resulted in deleted accounts for many, and the increasing censorship is now impacting dating apps. With censorship proving to be the go-to option for governments and companies around the world, it feels like anything that’s a bit queer or a bit sexual is at the top of the hit-list.
Facebook admitted last year to blocking LGBT+ ads, while Instagram claimed to have removed a photo of two men kissing “by mistake.”
Censorship can hit users of hookup apps in unexpected ways. This January, for instance, users of dating and social app Scruff began receiving a pop-up informing them that “To comply with platform policies, photos in underwear, jockstraps or bikini style bathing suits are no longer permitted in profile photos.”
Craigslist. Backpage. Tumblr. Now even @scruffapp, a gay dating app you have to be of consenting age to use, is censoring how it's users can post photos?
This isn't lookin so good guys… #sesta #fosta pic.twitter.com/w8UjOUEjqX
— Amp (@Pup_Amp) January 24, 2019
For a gay hookup app, this may seem like an odd move – but owners of apps like Scruff have been backed into a corner. They rely on app stores to distribute their service to users, and app stores are becoming increasingly conservative when it comes to anything that might be considered adult-oriented.
Squirt doesn’t rely on app stores to connect with its customers, and so has dodged this particular bullet. The site describes itself as “a completely uncensored hookup/ cruising site for gay, bi, and curious men who want to skip the pretence of dating and get right to the sex,” and thanks to its independence from the app market it remains uncensored – for now.
However, say site staff, “We can’t be complacent. The rising tide of censorship and online regulation could soon put us all out of business, making it no longer feasible for us to provide the types of services and content that our members value.”
Squirt wants to take a stand. Their #CensorshipSucks campaign, launched at the beginning of March across their website and social media platforms, aims to give those affected a chance to make their voices heard.
3. We want to take a stand! We want to send a message. We can’t stay silent in the face of increasing censorship. Today's the day we say #CensorshipSucks
Share a pic of you rocking a jockstrap/sexy underwear, and let's show the world that our bodies are nothing to be ashamed of.
— Dick Hunter (@SquirtOrg) March 1, 2019
Numerous gay models and adult performers have already come out in support of the #CensorshipSucks campaign. It’s ridiculous to censor photos of men in jockstraps, says porn star Tigger Redd, when we have no problem viewing nude paintings and statues. “Those are considered national treasures,” he says, but are “still showing full-on nudity for all to see. The body is an art form, it shows the beauty and uniqueness in all of us.”
River Wilson highlights the pointlessness of fears surrounding nudity: “This concept of safety by hiding sexuality or nudity never really did anything to help human trafficking nor folks being raped or abused.”
Jack Andy, perhaps, puts it best of all: “A society that is comfortable with every detail of violence being broadcast on every channel but not comfortable with the broadcasting of examples of the love, lust, compassion, caring, and sexual freedom the porn industry portrays, is a society that seriously needs to reconsider their viewing priorities.”
We say bring on the jockstraps and swimsuits – it’s time for digital censorship to stop.
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