Sexual favours on Bunz Trading Zone 'very rare' but not against group's rules

The founder and community manager of Bunz Trading Zone told Metro Morning on Monday trades of a sexual nature are "a drop and the bucket," but are allowed if they do not break prostitution laws.

Sex falls under same category as helping someone move, says trading group administrator

Emily Bitze, founder of Bunz Trading Zone, says posts that involve sexual favours may be taken down if they are not in line with local laws. (CBC)

The latest popular app in Toronto has recently crossed paths with the world's oldest profession.

CBC News reported last week the community-based group Bunz Trading Zone, whose members swap goods or services, has seen posts advertising sexual favours.

One member looking for a duvet wrote on the Facebook group: "Trading massage with a fun twist."

The people behind Bunz, however, told Metro Morning on Monday those kind of requests are "a drop in the bucket," but are allowed if they do not break prostitution laws.

"We're connected around the idea of making meaningful connections locally, it's really more than just trading," said founder Emily Bitze, who explains a typical exchange — what she calls a "true trade" — would be something like a bag of pasta for a picture frame.

Community manager Eli Klein says there's "an inevitability when you connect people locally" for relationships to form, adding he has made many friends and knows people who've started dating through the group.

Bitze says it is difficult to monitor swaps because they do not have access to the personal chats of Bunz members. (CBC)

Sex like building a book shelf

"The only things we explicitly ban are guns and ammo, and prescription drugs," says Klein. "We do our best to fall in line with local laws."

"Essentially, our stance is that sexual favours fall under the category of any service that you would provide using physical labour, whether it's helping somebody move or it's building a book shelf," he says.

"Any time we see a post that explicitly offers sex in exchange for an item, we have to delete it."

Klein says there are 'hundreds of thousands' of posts on the Bunz Facebook group, and those of a sexual nature are in the extreme minority. (CBC)

Both Bitze and Klein say it is difficult to moderate posts that include sexual favours and to determine what does or does not break the rules.

"What people decide to do in their personal chats, we don't have access to those conversations so there's no way we can police it that way," says Bitze.

"It's not really something we really want to get involved in," she says, but adds, "We have to comply with local laws, and that means we might have to take those posts down [if they break them]."

Klein says the app has "a robust security system" that picks up keywords for them to review, but that such trades are in the extreme minority.

"The amount of posts involving sexual trades is a drop in the bucket," he says. "We have over 200,000 active posts on the app right now and hundreds of thousands on the Facebook group."

"I can count on one hand the amount of times I've seen this come up," Klein says of trades involving sex.

"When it comes to people actually trading their bodies... it's rare. It's very rare."