On Mar 1 Toronto indiehomo-punk darlings Kids On TV had their MySpace profile unceremoniously booted from the popular social networking website. The only explanation, by way of a generic form letter, provided no specific reason for the sudden deletion of the account, other than a list of possible infractions that range from not meeting minimum age requirements to nudity or sexually suggestive photos.
"We suspect that although we kept our site visually PG-13 and played by the rules, the discussion of sexuality in our lyrics and the open embrace of radical culture was too much for MySpace," states Kids On TV in an open letter in response to the profile deletion.
The loss of the profile is a major blow to the band that, like thousands of other indie artists, used MySpace as its main way to network and promote its music. With an album about to drop and a European tour in the works, the timing couldn't have been worse.
According to the MySpace terms of service, the site reserves the right to delete accounts based on content that showcases nudity or sexually suggestive photos. While nudity is fairly self-explanatory, "sexually suggestive photos" is somewhat fuzzier.
"The phrase is vague enough to mean anything to anyone on the MySpace staff," states Kids On TV. "We demand that this phrase be removed or replaced."
At the time of its deletion the Kids On TV profile had more than 14,000 friends on its Myspace page and a massive contact list made possible by MySpace's free tools and resources.
"Kids On TV has made many excellent contacts and launched several very important projects because of relationships forged on MySpace," states the band's open letter. "When an independent artist's account is deleted, it removes the access to these relationships. But it also removes access to the free tools, content management/delivery provided by MySpace which are vital to someone trying to express themselves but without the resources of mainstream media, web media, etc."
According to the letter, Kids On TV made several attempts at getting answers from the MySpace administrative team about why its account had been deleted.
"They never responded to our questions either, which is the experience everyone has apparently."
Despite repeated calls and e-mails, no one from MySpace responded to Xtra's inquiries by press time.
Frustrated with the lack of answers, and curious to see if others had similar experiences, Kids On TV created a MySpace profile encouraging visitors to record their own stories of MySpace censorship.
"Once we created the page we were surprised that everyone who responded to it with a story of censorship was a gay artist. Admittedly we are (or rather were) in touch with many gay artists via our MySpace account. But this doesn't explain the repeating pattern."
So who exactly is looking over your MySpace profile and separating the naughty from the nice? It remains unclear, but what is known is that the on-line networking site was bought up in 2005 by Fox News parent News Corp for a hefty US$580-million.
While it might just be a coincidence that MySpace seems to have increased its efforts to boot to queer and radical artists like Kids On TV, the news network that calls itself "fair and balanced" isn't exactly known for embracing alternative views, let alone backing free and open forums that promote radical and queer ideas.
Let's not forget that Tom — every MySpace user's first friend — has a boss, News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch, who once said, "I'm considered homophobic and crazy about these things and old fashioned. But I think that the family — father, mother, children — is fundamental to our civilization."