The Gay Travel Guide for Tops and Bottoms by Drew Blancs was recently marketed to gay readers through a series of ads placed on Google and Facebook. Robert Christofle, a publicist for Vancouver, Canada–based Icon Empire/Open Mic Press, the book’s publisher, attempted to place an ad on the national professional networking site LinkedIn, but it was rejected because it contained “inappropriate content or language,” according to an email response from the website.
Christofle says the decision is not fair, but LinkedIn officials argue that their website is not the forum for showcasing a book about sexual positions — they wouldn’t run ads from a book, say, about best bars for straight doggy-style fans.
“LinkedIn is a professional networking platform, and as such, there has never been a place on it for ads that feature or promote explicit sexual content or products, of any kind,” LinkedIn spokesman Hani Durzy tells The Advocate.
Christofle insists he isn’t stirring up a fake story in order to get publicity. He points out that LinkedIn hosts its own erotica forums. And he says the book’s ads targeted only networks for gay travel, gay businesses, and gay leisure.
But these networks aren’t exclusively gay, Durzy counters, and a straight hotel owner or executive could join, for example. Durzy also mentioned that the book’s cover image, through some letters and well-positioned dots, shows two sets of stick figures having anal sex, so the ads are still inappropriate.
But just as Facebook has previously been criticized for flagging innocuous LGBT content, Christofle thinks LinkedIn is acting too jumpy when it comes to gay themes.
“Are they flagging the word ‘gay’?” he asks. “It’s a tongue-in-cheek book — we rate the men at restaurants and nightclubs, not at sex clubs and bathhouses.”