The Atlantic Exposes Social Media’s Censorship of Sex-Ed

Mar 6, 2015 12:49 PM PST

BOSTON — An article on TheAtlantic.com points out the inconsistencies in Facebook’s and Twitter’s policies regarding sexual content and how it’s preventing access to positive, safe-sex information.

The article highlights the struggles of sexual health organizations such as Besider and retailer Lucky Bloke, among others, have faced while trying to spread their sex-positive messages.

According to the article, Twitter’s ad policy allows messages about safer sex, however they can’t be sexy — nor can they link to sexual content. Besider recounts an exchange with a Twitter account strategist over a promoted tweet that had to be removed because according to the rep, “it still paints sex in a recreational/positive light versus being neutral and dry.”

“While Kim Kardashian’s bare butt is ‘breaking the Internet’ with click-throughs, sexual-health organizations must compete for attention with slogans fit for high-school health books,” the article says.

Youth+Tech+Health (YTH) founder Deb Levine says that while some policies are overly strict in interpretation, others are so broad that they’re enforced inconsistently, leaving it up to individual customer service reps to make the call.

“While Bedsider cannot have its tweets link back to its website if the homepage features any content deemed too sexual, Playboy has been able to promote its Twitter account even though its feed has shown bare breasts and highly suggestive text that is decidedly not health-oriented.”

Many sexual health organizations have reached out to the social media platforms, but have been ignored.

"While some organizations have had success getting content through after initial rejection, the process of winning that minor victory is tireless,” Bedsider’s director Lawrence Swiader told The Atlantic. “Many smaller organizations just don't have the bandwidth to fight for each individual piece of content."

YTH says it hopes to one day bring together sexual health experts and Silicon Valley execs to “hash it out” and amend the policies.

To read the article in full, click here.

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