Tim Hortons changes tune about blocked gay news website

Matthew Coutts
Daily BrewJuly 19, 2013
Tim Hortons changes tune about blocked gay news website

A gay and lesbian news website says it was blacklisted from Canada's most popular coffee chain, announcing on Friday that Tim Hortons has refused to allow customers access to the site.

DailyXtra.com, a gay news website, reports that access to the site has been blocked from Tim Hortons locations across Canada because it is "not appropriate for all ages." It was a decision that lasted right up until the account was publicly reported.

Tim Hortons announced online on Friday that the site had been mistakenly blocked and the issue would be addressed. But that isn’t what Daily Xtra was told previously.

The site reached out to Tim Hortons after several readers complained about the block. This is the response they received:

We try to ensure that all of our guests can enjoy a safe and pleasant experience when visiting us. We look at all of these types of requests in detail in order to provide the most latitude we can while keeping our restaurants a friendly environment. While there is no way to change this decision, we can assure you that it was not an easy decision to make.

[ Related: Tim Hortons faces backlash for blocking gay news website ]

Thanks for expressing your concerns about our WiFi access. Daily Xtra was blocked in error by our 3rd party vendor and is now accessible.

— Tim Hortons (@TimHortons) July 19, 2013

Tim Hortons is one of, well, every, coffee chain in the country that offers customers access to a public Wifi network. As part of that, users have to agree with an Acceptable Use Policy that outlines what type of activity is OK and what is prohibited. As part of that deal, some sites deemed by the company to be inappropriate are blocked.

Credit to Daily Xtra, they appear to understand how the issue came up, they just don't agree.

"[N]o screening software is perfect. Inevitably, some pornographic sites get blocked, while other non-pornographic sites containing useful information about sexual health or sexual identities may be as well," writes Rob Salerno. "Young people often turn to the internet for this information because they find it difficult to talk to their parents or other adults about it."

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The site itself doesn't appear to be offensive to anyone who may pass by the computer screen. There are occasional images and advertisements featuring partially naked men, similar to images of women found in basic men's magazines or available with the simplest web searches.

It also should be pointed out that Daily Xtra didn’t accuse Tim Hortons of homophobia. It notes that some gay news sites are available on the coffee shop's WiFi, while others appear to be similarly blocked.

What is frustrating is Tim Hortons' refusal to fix their error. "It's really up to Tim Hortons to explain the situation and what review they did of the site, the determination they made and why," editor-in-chief Brandon Matheson told the Canadian Press.

Set this issue aside. Within minutes of the complaint going public, Tim Hortons had changed its tune. The site is now available. The site that was too hot for public consumption has apparently now cooled to an appropriate temperature.

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