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The picture first appeared for an event planned as a protest against two gay men, Jonathan Williams and James Bull, being evicted from the John Snow pub in Soho, London, for being too affectionate. Protesters planned a “mass kiss in” outside the pub and posted the event on Facebook.
The image was removed, as well as from several other profiles that posted the picture. The picture apparently originates from a promotional still from the soap opera “Eastenders”, which features two male characters from the show kissing. The scene originally caused an uproar in the UK when it was flighted (October 2008).
This is the notice from Facebook that users received regarding the posting of the picture:
Content that you shared on Facebook has been removed because it violated Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Shares that contain nudity, or any kind of graphic or sexually suggestive content, are not permitted on Facebook.
This message serves as a warning. Additional violations may result in the termination of your account. Please read the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities carefully and refrain from posting abusive material in the future. Thanks in advance for your understanding and cooperation.
The Facebook Team”
Clearly the picture was reported by a few sensitive types who took umbrage to a display of affection between a same sex couple. These reports would have found their way to a Facebook moderator for review and without thinking, or perhaps harbouring their own homophobic tendencies, the moderator deemed the picture “sexually suggestive” and/or “abusive material” and banned it.
According to TheRegister.co.uk a spokesperson from Facebook has responded by saying: “The photo in question does not violate our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and was removed in error. We apologise for the inconvenience”. According to the same spokesman, the event page that features the picture has not been removed, as reported by some media, but has merely been made private by the creator of the event (Paul Shetler) after trolls decided to swamp the page.
This flexing of gay muscle comes within a month of Apple being forced to remove an anti-gay app from its App Store due to mass protest. After being in the App Store for 36 days, it took nearly 150,000 signatures on a petition at Change.org to finally get Apple to take the app down.