Today, the e-mail marketing service provider MailChimp pulled the plug on SexcusÃ© Moi, a high-end online boutique that offers sensual products ranging from luxury sexual aids to art. In an e-mail to John Leone, SexcusÃ© Moi’s founder, MailChimp explained that their move to end their business relationship with the boutique comes in response to internet service providers and spam filters. They write:
As a bulk delivery service, a huge part of our job is providing great deliverability for all our customers. ISPs and spam filters are becoming more sensitive to certain types of keywords and content.
Keeping this in mind, MailChimp is not able to serve as your email provider, because the content associated with your industry conflicts with our acceptable use policy. For direct questions regarding our acceptable use policy and the types of content that aren’t supported, please visit our Acceptable Use policy under Prohibited Content: http://mailchimp.com/legal/acceptable_use
Nothing personal against your content or industry; there are just some very strict spam filters and ISP rules that we have to comply with to maintain the best possible sending environment. These filters are becoming increasingly sensitive to certain keywords because some industries tend to generate greater than average complaint rates (legit or not) with their emails. A risk that we unfortunately cannot take.
We appreciate your understanding in this matter.
A cursory look at MailChimp’s Acceptable Use Policy, reveals that while nothing in SexcusÃ© Moi’s mailers was in violation of MailChimp terms (as they don’t send pornographic or sexually explicit content over e-mails or offer illegal goods or services) the boutique is still nevertheless prohibited from using the service because they fall under the category of “Adult novelty items or references.”
On their policy page, MailChimp writes, “Some industries have higher-than-normal abuse complaints, which can in turn jeopardize the deliverability of our entire system. Nothing personal, but in order to maintain the highest delivery rates possible for all our customers, we canâ€™t allow businesses that offer these types of services, products, or content […] If you send this sort of content, most email services providers wonâ€™t be able to help you. You might want to look into setting up your own mail server.”
This sounds very similar to payment processors that limit use for adult content creators on the grounds that the industry generates greater than average numbers of chargebacks. It’s a very clever way to fight against adult content and products without outright banning them.
MailChimp offers a E-mail Delivery guide to help professionals set up their own delivery infrastructure, but when you’re a small business without a lot of IT support, this isn’t always an option you can explore.
UPDATE: On Tuesday, May 20, MailCimp reinstated the SexcusÃ© Moi account. They said that their “automated abuse prevention system, Omnivore, detected content, keywords, or activity that can indicate the possibility of harmful information being sent through our service” because a SexcusÃ© Moi newsletter that was about to go out had mentioned and linked the sex partner-tracking app Nipple.io. “We are not able to support the link in the content of the campaign,” they said, adding that the e-mail could go out without a hyperlink. So it did:
Things may be resolved for SexcusÃ© Moi, but MailChimp is still participating in discriminatory practices that don’t give products or apps in the adult arena an even playing field from which to start. Why is it acceptable for Spreadsheets — which is similar to Nipple — to be linked on the newsletter but not Nipple?
Nipple is not the only app to strike panic into the upright heart of MailChimp’s cnesors. Mikandi, the adult side of the Android app market, got the boot despite the fact that they used the newsletters to communicate with app developers about changes in technology:
— MiKandi (@MiKandiStore) May 20, 2014
Mikandi tried to appeal, but they got the same message from MailChimp that SexcusÃ© Moi did, which apologized about having to cut Mikandi out because of their industry — nothing personal! Just can’t risk having a bunch of mailers talking about those slutty programming languages! Sorry!
“We explained that while we work in the adult space, we were emailing our registered devs tech-related newsletters,” Mikandi recounts via tweet. “Didn’t work.”
Header image features a photo by Afrika Force.