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Tim Hortons blames website censorship on vendor after boycott threatened

Friday, July 19, 2013

TORONTO — Tim Hortons, the Ontario-based coffee and doughnut house with more than 3,500 locations in Canada and the U.S., said Friday it has lifted a block of a popular Canadian LGBT news website from its in-store Wi-fi under pressure from gay rights advocates who vowed to launch a boycott of the chain.

Earlier Friday, Daily Xtra, the online version of Xtra, a free LGBT newspaper distributed in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, reported that Tim Hortons had blocked access to its website from his restaurants, claiming “it is not appropriate for all ages viewing in a public environment.”

Xtra’s Editor-In-Chief, Brandon Matheson told LGBTQ Nation that when he received complaints from its readers that his site was blocked, he contacted Tim Hortons, thinking the block may have been the result of third-party software that uses web crawlers to compile a list of offensive websites by screening for key words. Usually, sites that are blocked in error must be manually removed.

But when Xtra contacted Tim Hortons to request that the block be lifted, it received this reply:

“We are writing to inform you that your request to unblock the requested website has been declined. We have reviewed this site’s content and have found that it is not appropriate for all ages viewing in a public environment. 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.”

On Friday afternoon, a few hours after Xtra contacted the Canadian Press wire service and Twitter users began promising to boycott the coffee shops, Tim Hortons spokeswoman Michelle Robichaud apologized on behalf of the company and blamed a third-party service provider for the error and the resulting miscommunication.

Daily Xtra “shouldn’t have been blocked, in fact we’re working on unblocking it, it may already be unblocked, it should’ve never been blocked in the first place,” Robichaud told the Canadian Press.

Robichaud said the email reply Xtra received came from the company’s WiFi vendor, who was at fault for the error and subsequent “miscommunication.”

Xtra said it accepted Tim Hortons’ apology and that the chain made the right decision to ensure the block was lifted.

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8 more reader comments:

  1. Been going there since I was a kid, but DO NOT screw with me as an adult – there are lots of choices for coffee now.

    Posted on Friday, July 19, 2013 at 10:23pm
  2. I prefer Starbucks anyways, Timmie´s coffee like their excuses is just too weak.

    Posted on Friday, July 19, 2013 at 10:44pm
  3. homophobes beware !

    Posted on Friday, July 19, 2013 at 11:03pm
  4. Sorry to say but I´d never open a business with all this P. C Bullshit around. I´m gay but I agree with Tim on this. We the gay populace have our clubs, coffee houses, resorts and other businesses. Why do we then have to to get greedy for more. If you know of a gay run, supported business, go there. If not, suck it up. We are making great gains but let´s not get greedy and choke. We are alienating more ppl. ( Just my own opinion-rant over).

    Posted on Friday, July 19, 2013 at 11:04pm
  5. This is kind of ridiculous

    Posted on Friday, July 19, 2013 at 11:55pm
  6. Michael, Tim Horton´s isn´t suppose to be for ´straight´ people. It´s suppose to be for Canadians. That is how they market their product. Sometimes people go to Tim Horton´s to sit and read the news, and increasingly people are doing that from mobile devices.

    Tim Horton´s is iconic to most Canadians. Most of us could tell you a lot of stories that centre around hanging out in or outside of one. I have a lot of memories myself that centre around the place.

    And I am gay, and my news, and the news that effects my community should not be viewed as lewd or obcene. Because I am not lewd or obcene. I have just as much right to sit there reading Xtra as the guy in the corner reading the Sun.

    Plus, people in gay establishments wouldn´t be kicked out for reading ´straight´ news.

    Posted on Saturday, July 20, 2013 at 2:17am
  7. Not to mention, not every GLBT person in Canada has access to go to a queer owned establishment. And even if it´s owned by straight people, that doesn´t give them the right to do this, and this isn´t the first time Tim Horton´s has been accused of homophobia, there was a protest a year or so ago because a lesbian couple was asked to leave one.

    But Tim´s has always maintained that it is for everyone, and even said as much when they apologized to the couple and invited them back. So if it´s for everyone they should not be censoring my news.

    Posted on Saturday, July 20, 2013 at 2:27am
  8. … Simply WOW!?! THIS-from-A business named after an alcoholic NHL player?!? PULLEEZE!!!

    Posted on Saturday, July 20, 2013 at 4:13am