Canadian Coffee Shop Chain Apologizes For Blocking Gay Newspaper Site Over WiFi

The Canada-based Tim Hortons coffee shop chain is apologizing to the publisher of a Canadian free weekly gay newspaper for blocking access to the paper's website on its restaurants' WiFi, UPI reports:

Tim HortonsBrandon Matheson, publisher of Xtra, a gay free newspaper that circulates in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver, said he began getting tweets from readers who said they could not access the newspaper's website, DailyXtra.com, while connected to the Tim Hortons WiFi, the Toronto Star said Friday.

Matheson, a Timmy Ho's regular, said he tried himself and it came up blocked. 

He contacted a web administrator to inquire about the situation and was told his not-particularly racy website was not suitable for Tim Hortons patrons to access in their coffee shops.

"We have reviewed this site's content and have found that it is not appropriate for all ages viewing in a public environment,' read the unsigned email from the company Tim Hortons contracts as web administrator. 'We try to ensure that all our guests can enjoy a safe and pleasant experience when visiting us."

Xtra wrote a story about being blocked at Tim Hortons and readers launched a Twitter campaign to encourage gays and lesbians to boycott the chain.

"For a 'safe and pleasant experience,' I guess I won't be going to @TimHortons," tweeted David Demchuk after reading the story.

Others joined in and a Tim Hortons representative contacted Matheson shortly afterward to inform him the company had reviewed and reversed the web administrator's decision.

"Sometimes websites are blocked in error; dailyxtra.com never should have been blocked in the first place," Tim Hortons spokeswoman Michelle Robichaud said. "We apologize if anyone was offended by that error."    

Comments

  1. RJ says

    “We apologize if anyone was offended by that error.”

    Well, Ms. Robichaud, clearly folks WERE offended by “that error” so no IF statement is needed. Just say you apologize for the error.

  2. alex says

    While Mr. Matheson thinks his website is “not-particularly racy”, others might disagree. I just visited the site and found an advertisement for something called Squirt. It has a nearly naked man and the tagline “Hot ‘n horny hookups”.

    I find the call for a boycott to be a wild overreaction.

  3. alex says

    While Mr. Matheson thinks his website is “not-particularly racy”, others might disagree. I just visited the site and found an advertisement for something called Squirt. It has a nearly naked man and the tagline “Hot ‘n horny hookups”.

    I find the call for a boycott to be a wild overreaction.

  4. says

    It seems the threat of a boycott made the company stop blocking the site, so I’d call it an effective strategy rather than a wild overreaction, Alex.

    And it’s not like someone looking at the site would be projecting it on the walls or beaming it into children’s eyes, so perhaps the blocking was the overreaction? The company apparently thinks so from a business POV, though I agree with RJ about the apology. (“If anyone was offended” is what should be blocked from all apologies.)

  5. Adam says

    Tim Horton’s has every right to ban a gay magazine that links to or advertises an “afternoon sex club” for men who can’t control their libidos while sipping coffee.

    Memo to the community: Stop making society more sexually explicit under the gay rights banner. It’s dishonest for starters.

  6. Bob says

    Not surprising that a website with a capital X would be blocked by someone reviewing tons of sites.
    They agreed to fix it — lots of publicity for the website, not so much for Tim

  7. ENOUGH says

    I’m so sick of gays wanting everything just because their gay! Tim Hortons has every right to block them if they feel the site contains unsuitable material!!! The same ones complaining are those accessing questionable material. And if the paper is so concerned, don’t advertise questionable sites or material! Enough already!!!

  8. ENOUGH says

    Screw an apology! Do straight men get apologies from gyms when GAY men consistently perform lewd acts in the gym? HELL NO!!! Do we boycott 24hr Fitness because the gays are having sex in the gym? It’s amazing how some gays will use “Boycott” as a weapon when clearly they are in the wrong!!!!!

  9. Joseph Singer says

    “I’m so sick of gays wanting everything just because their gay!”

    Enough was asleep or was throwing spit balls in class when the teacher explained to him that even though there are lots of words that sounds the same it doesn’t mean that they mean the same thing. The naughty word for words like that is homophone (and no, it’s not a phone owned by a homo.)

  10. Randal Oulton says

    Timmy Ho’s? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say no one in Canada calls it that — the writer of the UPI piece (copied here in full — is that actually allowed?) must not be Canadian.

  11. says

    @Enough with the exclamation points!!!! Someone needs a Valium. The site is hardly scandalous, unless you’ve been living in a cloister. Timmy’s isn’t freaking out, why are you? Worked up after spying on all that gym sex?

  12. Knock says

    1) I hear “Timmy Ho’s” nearly as often as “Timmy’s”. Perhaps it’s a regional/Toronto appellation.

    2) I don’t understand why stores block *anything* on wifi. You can’t see my screen, and if it’s a site of a sexual nature I’m probably not going to wave it around so others can see it.

  13. alex says

    I stand by my statement that calling for a boycott because a single LGBT website was blocked a wild overreaction. Any website that displays ads for hookup sites that feature nearly naked models shouldn’t be surprised when somethink like this happens.

    It’s only censorship if Tim Horton’s allows mainstream sites that have a similar level of nudity or sex-related ads.

    I’m of the opinion that corporate boycotts should be reserved for something more important than what sites can be accessed via free wi-fi. As it stands, I can’t help but feel as though Mr. Matheson used a boycott to bully this company into getting special treatment for his website.

    If anyone can present evidence that Tim Horton’s allows mainstream/straight websites with similar questionable content, I’ll gladly rescind my statement.

  14. alex says

    I stand by my statement that calling for a boycott because a single LGBT website was blocked a wild overreaction. Any website that displays ads for hookup sites that feature nearly naked models shouldn’t be surprised when somethink like this happens.

    It’s only censorship if Tim Horton’s allows mainstream sites that have a similar level of nudity or sex-related ads.

    I’m of the opinion that corporate boycotts should be reserved for something more important than what sites can be accessed via free wi-fi. As it stands, I can’t help but feel as though Mr. Matheson used a boycott to bully this company into getting special treatment for his website.

    If anyone can present evidence that Tim Horton’s allows mainstream/straight websites with similar questionable content, I’ll gladly rescind my statement.

  15. David says

    I have to add that I’ve never heard anyone refer to Tim Horton’s as “Timmy Ho’s”. That being said, no one else can see websites you are accessing on your laptop while you are in a coffee shop. If they can see the details of the website, then they are being nosy. Much ado about nothing here.

  16. says

    One guy bullied a big corporation into doing something it didn’t want to do? You think Tim Hortons is that much of a pushover? Really? And, looking at the site, I don’t see any particularly scandalous content–basically it looks like any number of sites, including Towleroad. There are free pubs in racks all over most Canadian cities with racier stuff.

  17. AdamTh says

    “I find the call for a boycott to be a wild overreaction.”

    I find the lack of parental supervision these days to be astounding! Appalling would be another appropriate description. Never give a minor unsupervised access to the Internet. NEVER!

    As for adults, if you don’t want to watch/read it, then DON’T keep doing it!

    Simple solution.

  18. AngelaChanning says

    Companies that provide Wi-Fi often use filtering software, that seldom is reviewed or customized. It is not surprising that only the threshold of “gay” gets a site blocked by these providers, which is very narrow minded and possibly homophobic. After Tim Hortons was notified, they should have reviewed the site, approved it, and gone into the Wi-Fi administrative tool and made the adjustment and propagated the change for all stores. However, Tim Hortons management responded the content was inappropriate. It is not clear if they really reviewed the site themselves or relied on the criteria of the blocking software.

    As others have noted, the content is pretty standard. I did not see any ads that were questionable at all. I would hardly call the tweets that were involved an organized boycott. Those were just the dynamics of social media. Alex, please pull your underpants out of your butt.

  19. ENOUGH says

    @ERNIE – I guess you just let us know that you’re one of those self same pervs I described. SOme straight men find it disgusting and deplorable that gay men only go to gyms as a substitute for a bath house. This is why so many gyms have now placed undercover security and or police personnel in the gyms to halt this behavior.

  20. ENOUGH says

    @Joseph Singer – The fact that I touched a nerve with you Joey Senseless proves my point. Do me a favor and wipe your own butt before you attempt to wipe someone else’s. You know I’m correct, end of story.

  21. says

    @Enough, honey, you’re the one who’s obsessed with gym sex, not me. Curious that a “straight” man would be trolling a gay website to fixate on something that wasn’t even mentioned in the post. Better go work out those sexual frustrations, buddy!

  22. matt says

    “SOme straight men find it disgusting and deplorable that gay men only go to gyms as a substitute for a bath house.”

    Ahaha wow, this makes straight men really pathetic I guess because somehow we manage to get big muscles and a six pack from having sex in the locker room while you guys work out and still look awful.

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