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Here at Fetish.com, someone had their kink content pulled from Pinterest. So did many of the people following their Pinterest boards. The Fetish.com folks got in touch with me — knowing I’m an avid social media user — and asked if I’d had similar experiences, and had ever experienced BDSM censorship?

Yes. Yes I have.

I’ve had nudity and kink pulled from Pinterest. I’ve had paid advertisements declined on Facebook. And I’ve watched myself pretty carefully on Instagram. I've seen plenty of my friends deal with removed pictures and blocked accounts, especially during IG’s battles with the body positive movement.

So what gives? On the surface you could say that if nudity is against the terms of service than you should expect it to be pulled and not complain. After all, we’ve all ticked the checkbox agreeing to this and more — and who really reads the fine print anyway?

But I think there’s more to it than just BDSM censorship. Social media networks are basing their rules on what they think the community standards should be, but who makes up that community?


morality-police-pinterest-facebook-instagram-2Apparently it’s full of people who have no problem with men’s nipples, but who are appalled by women breastfeeding. People who are okay with threats and violence, but who shudder at the suggestion that sex can and should be pleasurable. Our cultural shame and fear around sex permeate these community standards and it shows. In cases of BDSM censorship and censorship in the vanilla world. When a Facebook ad is denied for cleavage, which I’m told isn’t allowed even in an educational context - but bathing suit models are everywhere the eye can see. What kind of user experience is being cultivated?

On top of that, you’ve got social networks balking at the idea of being known for porn. Tumblr famously removed the ability to search for content related to sex. Heck, even some sex toy manufacturers don’t want to be associated with sex. The rebranding of the Hitachi Magic Wand to simply, the Magic Wand.

Why all the panic about sex?


Because I’m meta like that. I reached out on my own social media to ask people about their experiences with BDSM censorship and social media morality policing, and I got a wide range of responses.

More than one nationally known sex educator told me of their woes, both personal and professional, of having their content pulled or denied. Ken Melvoin Berg, sex educator and consulting producer of Sex with Sunny Megatron has had multiple run-ins with the Facebook police. Most recently he was put on a 7 day time-out for reposting an article about “nutscaping”. Before that he was banned for a picture of himself in a “Lord of the Cockrings” shirt.

Sure, this stuff sounds silly — but for Ken, and other self employed sex educators — social media can be a big part of how we reach clients and colleagues. And as Ken notes, being banned from Facebook for a week actually impacts his ability to make a living. Meanwhile, his reports of someone posting racist and Nazi propaganda on FB were ignored.

morality-police-pinterest-facebook-instagram-3Rachel Kramer Bussel one of the most widely published and known erotica and sex writers, has had her own problems with Facebook and other social media. Lately, her attempts to pay for advertising for her erotica anthologies and her online writing classes through LitReactor have been blocked. “I've bought ads with them in the past but I'd say in the last year or two. All my efforts have been rejected, even when I didn't include the word "erotica" in the ad or post. I think it's ridiculous that Facebook is willing to lose money from people like me or you in the name of being free of sex.“

‪JoEllen Notte‬, The Redhead Bedhead, jokes, “I’ve clearly been marked a dirty, dirty sex talker,” in response to her ads being declined by Facebook.

And still other people spoke up in favor of the rules for BDSM censorship and others, saying there was some content they just don’t want to see. Certainly things they don’t want to see while at work. So how much is social media responsible for protecting people and to what extent do we need to take personal responsibility for curating our own online experience? In an age of trigger warnings and content warnings, where is the line between sensitivity and censorship?

People have bad information about sex and these rules are blocking their ability to get good information.


Sex education in schools is a travesty, and now we’re not even letting adults have access to information. We’re not just talking about porn or smut. We’re talking about basic educational content and essential safer sex information.

A healthy and happy sex life is part of a healthy and happy life. When we separate sex out into something dirty that can’t be talked about, that’s when secrets and lies fester. That’s when we have a culture where supposedly monogamous couples have as high a rate of STI’s as people who have multiple partners. That’s when tens of thousands of people will be outed and shamed for seeking human connection on the down low on sites like Ashley Madison.

So what do we do about BDSM censorship?


Well, if social media is taking it’s cues about what is acceptable from our culture then that’s what we have to change. Bring sex positivity into your own life and share it with others. Make sex something that can be talked about openly and proudly.

And meanwhile, support your local sex educator or sexuality professional by signal boosting their message or buying their books. Share their social media posts and forward their newsletters. Tell your friends about classes you’ve enjoyed and leave their business cards at the corner coffee shop.

Together we can build a world where everyone can explore their sexuality safely and free of shame.

Stella Harris is an author, educator, and coach who helps people build the skills, knowledge, and confidence they need to explore their sexuality safely and free of shame. You can learn more about Stella, or schedule a consultation, on her website or follow her on Twitter or IG: @stellaharriserotica

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Tell me about that. I had the (very abstract) cover for my BDSM manual (used as a textbook in university courses) repeatedly banned from Facebook ads! If you wanna have a laugh about it, you can see it at http://goo.gl/xDu84V

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