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objectionable content

Why Did Citibank Close the Bank Account of Gay Social Network Fabulis?

The details are few, and the situation bizarre, but it appears Citibank — recipient of billions of dollars in taxpayer dollars under TARP — terminated the account of Fabulis, a soon-to-launch social networking site for gay men. Why? Because its site featured “objectionable content.”

Last night, Queerty‘s founding editor Bradford Shellhammer, who is now Fabulis’ creative director, notified us to the situation. The company’s chief Jason Goldberg learned Citibank has closed the firm’s accounts; there was no phone call or email to alert them. During a “compliance review,” Citibank determined Fabulis’ “content was not in compliance with Citibank’s standard policies.” And now, an account manager reached out to the bank reached out to Fabulis to say the three account reps the social network’s staff spoke to were “wrong.”

Just what type of “objectionable content” does Fabulis feature? None that we could find, other than their stated desire to connect gay men via the web, without all the hooking up that’s usually associated with such a lofty goal.

But that’s not even the point. Even if the Fabulis blog had “objectionable content,” a bank does not get to shut down the account without notice. “Objectionable content” should be reserved for things like hate speech, incitements to violence, racist tirades. Or even, if it’s the bank’s choosing, X-rated content. Not videos from average folks talking about what makes them “fabulis.” And even if Citi doesn’t want the gay site’s business? Fine, just give them enough time to transfer their funds to a more accepting institution.

It’s strange to see a bank, so desperate for customer deposits, terminate a relationship with a company that’s backed by serious investment players (including the Washingotn Post) and Goldberg, an established tech entrepreneur. It’s not way to buy friends in the gay community. (Or the tech community; the must-read site Techcrunch also featured the story.)

Which is why — although most banks, frankly, are terrible institutions — we’d recommend Fabulis take a look at Chase Bank’s offerings. At least this financial giant is a friend to LGBTs.

By:           editor editor
On:           Feb 25, 2010
Tagged: , , , , , , ,
  • 16 Comments
    • Cam
      Cam

      If this is true, and Citibank doesn’t want gay money, then gays need to give them what they want. Cancel your citibank cards, pull your accounts and move to other institutions that don’t hate us.

      Feb 25, 2010 at 3:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Lady Ga-Gasp
      Lady Ga-Gasp

      The big banks will not provide business banking services (especially loans or lines of credit, or payment processing, to most sex industry entities, gay or straight, online or offline, simple as that. Its not news.

      Feb 25, 2010 at 3:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brian NYC
      Brian NYC

      How did this silly website raise $625,000? What’s the point?

      Feb 25, 2010 at 3:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daniel
      Daniel

      Perhaps it is because Fabulis targets gay men, which violates laws against discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Remember eHarmony anyone? Commercial sites cannot break non-discrimination laws if they operate with customers in those jurisdictions. Perhaps Citi is just trying to avoid being drawn into a lawsuit.

      Feb 25, 2010 at 3:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • terrwill
      terrwill

      Well, now I don’t feel so bad about warning my friends about ShitiBank with this little nugget about them advising that they can freeze access to your funds……………

      http://www.prisonplanet.com/citigroup-warns-customers-it-may-refuse-to-allow-withdrawals.html

      Feb 25, 2010 at 3:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam
      Cam

      No. 4 · Daniel said….
      Perhaps it is because Fabulis targets gay men, which violates laws against discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Remember eHarmony anyone? Commercial sites cannot break non-discrimination laws if they operate with customers in those jurisdictions. Perhaps Citi is just trying to avoid being drawn into a lawsuit.
      __________________

      If there was a legit legal reason for Citi Bank to have done what they did, they would have said it plainly. They are setting themselves up for a lawsuit by doing this with no explanation.

      Feb 25, 2010 at 4:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dontblamemeivotedforhillary
      dontblamemeivotedforhillary

      Shitty bank, Wank Of America and Chase (Your Money Manhattan) are all awful banks. Invest with Independent Community-oriented banks, not Corporate Raiders of the Public purse!

      Feb 25, 2010 at 4:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • dontblamemeivotedforhillary
      dontblamemeivotedforhillary

      @No. 4 · Daniel

      Perhaps it is because Fabulis targets gay men, which violates laws against discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Remember eHarmony anyone? Commercial sites cannot break non-discrimination laws if they operate with customers in those jurisdictions. Perhaps Citi is just trying to avoid being drawn into a lawsuit.

      Wished I’d read your post. Fabulis should just have a Green Room for Friends of Gays who can’t access gay male rooms….

      What next, Straights invading Gay bars? Oh, F_______!

      Feb 25, 2010 at 4:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • fredo777
      fredo777

      @Lady Ga-Gasp: What does the sex industry have anything to do with this site? Or did you even bother to check out the site in question?

      Feb 25, 2010 at 4:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Josh AZ
      Josh AZ

      Fabulisp would be more appropriate.

      Feb 25, 2010 at 4:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ben
      Ben

      I love the smell of a publicity stunt in the morning.

      Since when do banks halt accounts based on morality calls?

      Feb 25, 2010 at 6:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Isaac
      Isaac

      Queerty is biased in the telling of this story, as usual. According to the Advocate’s account of this story, the Fabulis account was restored and the bank apologized that such a thing ever happened. We don’t know if homphobic employees were involved in this, but the mistake, inadvertent or not, was resolved.

      Citibank went on to state their support for gay causes. They recently sponsored a homeless shelter in NYC for gay youth. So before you all get your panties in a bunch, make sure you have all the facts. If we overreact to every perceived slight, we will end up alienating everyone, which will get us nowhere as a gay community.

      You can still blame them for being a big part of this financial crisis though…

      Feb 25, 2010 at 9:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Josh AZ
      Josh AZ

      @Isaac: I don’t think that’s fair Isaac. Queerty reported what they heard from Fabulis directly. THAT was responsible. After a day the story has evolved. Chill.

      If you want to pick on someone for “getting it wrong” in the media, I would suggest GLAAD.

      Feb 25, 2010 at 9:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Isaac
      Isaac

      @Josh AZ: Queerty could have provided an update to this story, which they’ve done in the past. I’m just filling in the holes in this story. What’s unfair is to have readers make a decision about something without knowing both sides.

      Feb 25, 2010 at 9:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Josh AZ
      Josh AZ

      @Isaac: Okay, thanks. Oh, and do you have free checking at Citibank? Just wondering.

      Feb 25, 2010 at 11:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Keith Kimmel
      Keith Kimmel

      Bank of America will close your accounts if you deal in anything adult related. Porn, sex toys, you name it. A number of studios and content sites have had accounts closed by them.

      Feb 26, 2010 at 4:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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