When Playboy was founded in 1953, conservatives were up in arms about the way that it contradicted traditional “American values.” But how times have changed. Playboy has become the latest brand to delete its Facebook pages, claiming that Facebook is both “sexually repressive” and contradicts Playboy’s values.
Playboy’s decision follows other companies that have recently left the social media platform like Tesla and SpaceX, and even mentioned Facebook’s “recent meddling” in the American electoral process.
“There are more than 25 million fans who engage with Playboy via our various Facebook pages, and we do not want to be complicit in exposing them to the reported practices,” Playboy said in a statement issued overnight.
The move comes on the heels of recent revelations that Facebook had mishandled the user data of over 50 million people. That data had fallen into the hands of research firm Cambridge Analytica, who then used it to influence the 2016 US presidential election in favor of President Donald Trump.
Cooper Hefner, son of the late Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, issued a statement on Twitter that was even harsher than the official statement, bringing up the way that Facebook data has been used politically.
“Facebook’s content guidelines and corporate policies continue contradicting our values,” Hefner tweeted. “We’ve tried to craft our voice for the platform, which in our opinion continues to be sexually repressive.”
“Learning of the recent meddling in a free U.S. election further demonstrates another concern we have of how they handle users’ data—more than 25 million of which are Playboy fans—making it clear to us that we must leave the platform,” said Hefner.
Facebook has become incredibly toxic, but Playboy’s decision could be seen as opportunistic. Facebook has always banned photos of naked people, though there has been inconsistencies in the way that it censors nude images. Playboy infamously spent most of 2016 as a nudity-free publication, but returned to its roots with naked women in its pages for the March/April 2017 issue.
Elon Musk was the first high-profile founder to deletes his brands from the platform, bringing down the pages for both Tesla and SpaceX. But it was pretty clear that they wouldn’t be the last.
It’s been a really bad month for Facebook, with its stock price plunging, and increased calls for Mark Zuckerberg to testify both in the US and England. Zuck has reportedly decided to testify to Congress, but won’t be traveling to the UK, despite pleas from Parliament for him to do so.
Facebook has also put off plans to unveil a new household speaker, hoping that it may be able to do so after the heat has worn off. But if Playboy’s decision is any guide, the worst is far from over. Brands are Playboy’s lifeblood. And if others decide to leave, whatever their true motives, Facebook could very well become a ghost town inside of 18 months.
“Playboy has always stood for personal freedom and the celebration of sex,” Playboy said. “Today we take another step in that ongoing fight.”