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The trouble with Twitter's zero tolerance
Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park is the latest in an onslaught of unfairly banned nudist voices
The Twitter account for Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park has been suddenly and permanently suspended. The unexplained termination of the popular Canadian nudist resort’s account is only the latest in a long line of recent bans of prominent nudist accounts on the platform, causing concern in the nudist community about the targeting of their voices. Over the last two years, a number of prominent nudist accounts have been banned from Twitter without warning or explanation. These include the Naturist Living Show podcast (13k+ followers), Naturist Vintage (20k+ followers), Meandering Dan Carlson (popular naturist travel blogger with 30k+ followers), the French Naturist Federation (18k+ followers), multiple regional accounts for the American Association for Nude Recreation, Nudie News (blog account), Clothes Free TV (naturist media company), Rocky Mountain Naturist Club (a clothes free travel club), and many, many more. Of course, the problem is also not limited to twitter. Bans on platforms like Instagram and YouTube have also targeted prominent naturist voices. These bans have had a serious impact on the ability of the nudist community to connect with one another and promote their lifestyle, and in the cases of some businesses and individuals, has resulted in a loss of visibility and revenue.
In the most recent case of Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park, I take no pride in saying that I kind of saw it coming. One day before the Twitter ban, the account posted a lovely and innocuous photo of a nude family enjoying naturism at Bare Oaks. The photo was tasteful and appropriate, and showed no sensitive or private parts, but it included the implied nudity of two kids. Uh oh. Fate sealed.
While Bare Oaks’ post seemingly does not go against Twitter’s written policies, the new owner of the social media giant has said that removing child exploitation from Twitter is "priority number one" following his purchase of the platform last October. Despite this new prime directive, he promptly fired most of the team charged with trust and safety, and multiple experts have reported that the child porn problem has only become more rampant with Elon Musk at the helm. Most recently, reports indicate Musk has forced his engineers to manipulate twitter’s algorithm to inordinately boost the visibility of his own tweets broadly across twitter. Meanwhile, it appears that a zero tolerance policy has been instituted against the mere insinuation of child nudity, resulting in the unfair marginalization of perfectly legal family friendly naturist businesses, organizations and advocates. At best, Twitter’s policies around nudity are vaguely worded and inconsistently enforced. Even concerned parents seeking medical help have to be careful for the algorithmic overreach of ‘big tech’. Some naturist accounts which never even posted photos or other media are among the prominent ones which have been inexplicably removed from Twitter. Since the suspended accounts are rarely if ever given any reasoning for their abrupt punishments, it’s presumable that even the use of the words “family nudism” could feasibly trigger a Twitter ban.
Of course, child exploitation is a very serious issue that requires serious attention, and that should not be minimized. While the problem is not limited to Twitter, the Musk-owned social media platform (one of the few to allow nudity) is particularly dogged by it. It is necessary to distinguish between non-exploitative content and child sexual exploitation without diminishing the seriousness of the latter, and clearly Twitter’s moderators are struggling with this distinction. Still, the unfair banning of nudist organizations such as Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park can have a serious impact on their bottom line as they may use social media platforms to advertise their family-friendly businesses and services. Moreover, the sometimes high profile suspensions of nudist accounts place nudism in a contextual relationship to child exploitation that otherwise would never exist, creating and perpetuating negative and false stereotypes about nudists and naturists.
David V. Goliath
The individual has few paths and little recourse to appeal such bans, and there is seemingly no way to contact Twitter to raise the issue. The challenge individual nudists are faced with is finding a way to make their voices heard by the powers that be. Nudist organizations have a role to play here. They can use the power of their coalitions to send a louder and more resonant message to Twitter and other social media companies. If the organizations can work to ally with each other across boarders, the message becomes even stronger. Stéphane Deschênes, the owner of Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park and president of the International Naturist Federation, is in a unique position to represent this issue, but other nudists and organizations have to sign on as well. As members of these organizations, all nudists can encourage their federations to advocate for policies that are appropriate for their needs as a collective voice for the nudist community. This is where membership in these groups is very important. We can be a unified voice for change only if we all speak up together to both condemn child exploitation and simultaneously defend our practice against unfair comparisons to such reprehensible acts.
It is crucial to protect the rights of the nudist community and to ensure that their voices are heard in online spaces. In an ideal (albeit unlikely) scenario, nudists could help guide social media companies toward creating policies that are nuanced and better able to distinguish between different types of content, and collaborate in Twitter's content moderation efforts to ensure transparency. I’m hopeful, but not very optimistic. 🪐
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