A kink in the system

• Akademi Small Bar owners Kat Henderson, David Jardine and Sara White (tied up).

NORTH PERTH’S local fetish bar is being strangled by social media censorship.

Akademi Small Bar, a pansexual, gay and trans-friendly venue, opened up in the old Classroom building on Charles Street last month.

Owners David Jardine, Sara White and Kat Henderson say consent is at the forefront of their concept and they run workshops on communication, safety, comfort zones and healthy relationship dynamics.

But Mr Jardine says despite the positive message, discussing topics such as “combating rape culture” or healthy sex positivity, seemingly falls foul of Facebook and Instagram’s automated blocking algorithms.

“It’s totally being restricted,” Mr Jardine says.

“Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult to address any kind of adult topic on Facebook or Instagram without those words being used to flag you as an adult restricted category.”

Mr Jardine says consent and communication are vital in the current sexual culture and people are thirsty for information.

Fiction like 50 Shades of Grey and online BDSM porn have spread kink to a wider audience, but aficionados say those mediums don’t educate people on keeping it safe and positive.

Whipping requires a solid technique to avoid unnecessary harm, while veteran kinksters say “aftercare” kindness and comfort is vital for a submissive partner after an intense session.

“The younger generations are a lot more sexually aware and active, and have a lot more material at their disposal thanks to the internet,” Mr Jardine says. “So they’ve got access to advanced topics and advanced ideas – without any of the background.

This Wednesday as the Voice was going to print Akademi was holding a Save Your Local Fetish Bar night to encourage supporters to spread news of them by word of mouth.

Mr Jardine says all are welcome at their free Sunday open days, where the usual fetish dress code is given the night off.

He says the demographic is “totally across the board … we have 18 year olds coming in and we have 60 year olds coming in, there’s no age limit”.

Mr Jardine says older couples benefit from communication workshops (some have never had an open discussion about sexual desires and limits), while younger people tend to be more in need of learning about setting and respecting boundaries.

“Getting them to talk to each other is revolutionary,” he says.

”Literally every single standard relationship out there could benefit from these basics – your relationship with your partner is going to get 100 per cent better if you agree to limits, agree to consent, and explore each other like that.”

by DAVID BELL

‘Shadowbanned’

WHEN an ordinary business posts something on Facebook, it might be seen by anyone who likes the business’s page, or whose friends like the post.

The ratio varies, but it’s normal for one engagement to lead to five, 10 or 20 times as many people being reached.

Akademi’s posts are getting bafflingly small exposure.

One screenshot Akademi took showed a post with 55 engagements reaching only 22 others – not the 300 to 1000 you’d normally expect.

“Our posts aren’t getting anywhere; it’s pretty clear we’ve been shadowbanned,” Mr Jardine said.

That refers to the censoring by social media giants when they’re antsy about your account, but you haven’t broken any rules to justify being outright banned.

The aim is to discourage users who get tired of shouting into the void; a hard ban might encourage them to create new accounts or use creative letter substitutions to fool the word filter (eg, “s3x”).

The social media giants are cagey about acknowledging shadowbans, but in July Facebook was granted a patent for a censorship technique which hides posts from the public, but still displays “the blocked content to the commenting user such that the commenting user is not made aware that his or her comment was blocked” — a near-perfect description of a shadowban.

Instagram (owned by Facebook) uses a similar system, hiding posts from searches that it thinks are “sexually suggestive” but which fall short of breaching its actual rules. It also hides any post featuring the eggplant emoji from searches, since many users included that emoji in sexual posts because it resembles a p3n1s.

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