Facebook’s name policy ends up in wrong name for awardee
“Facebook is a billion dollar corporation- if they won’t change the name they must have guidelines & should explain those guidelines clearly.”
By David-Elijah Nahmod | SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook’s decision several years ago that people must use their first and last names on the popular social media site had negative consequences for a queer African American Bay Area man who recently received an award with his incorrect name.
Blackberri, a well known singer-songwriter who uses one name, was initially thrilled when he learned that he had won Man of the Year Award from The Barony, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in the East Bay that raises funds for charities within Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara counties. But Blackberri’s excitement turned to disappointment when he saw that the award was made out to “Blackberri Singer,” the name he has been forced to use on Facebook.
“Blackberri Singer is not my name,” Blackberri told the Bay Area Reporter. “I had to choose it because Facebook didn’t let me use one name.”
Blackberri, 76, added that he had attended a meeting at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center in 2014 when Facebook addressed its real names policy. At the time Facebook was forcing drag performers to use the names on their government-issued IDs, and not the names they perform under and are known by. There had been some concern that this policy was discriminatory toward the trans community, as the policy could force trans people to use their birth names on Facebook, even though such names might be at odds with their gender identity.
There had also been reports that battered women and sexual assault survivors were being forced to use their legal names on the social networking site, which might open them up to additional attacks.
In 2015, Sister Roma of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and others met with Facebook officials to discuss the issue. Facebook promised that they would make it easier for users to provide the company with more information about themselves so that the names they are commonly known by could be used on their profiles.
But some have fallen through the cracks, as Blackberri did. Singer was chosen as his last name on his Facebook profile because it is what he does for a living.
“I took my passport, my credit card, and everything,” Blackberri said. “They have one name on them. So they realized that I had one name, and they said they would drop ‘Singer’ and just let me use the one name, but they never did.”
Blackberri noted that he has been unable to contact anyone at Facebook more recently.
“You can’t contact anybody there,” he said, adding that it upset him to receive an award with the wrong name on it.
“All my other awards have just one name on them,” he said. “Because that’s my name. I changed it about 50 years ago because I just wanted one name. My fan page has one name. I don’t understand why they can’t drop the Singer from the other page that I use more.”
He noted that music of his has been archived at the Smithsonian.
“I have music in Marlon Riggs’ film ‘Tongues Untied,'” he said. “I have music in Peter Adair’s film ‘Word is Out,’ in the film ‘Looking for Langston.’ I’m very well known.”
Blackberri is pleased that The Barony is going to correct the name on his award. Drag performer Viva Commotion, also known as Monolito Wilson, serves as the chairperson of The Barony, and is also queen mother to the Barony court. Commotion told the B.A.R. that Blackberri has been an inspiration to them and explained in greater detail what Blackberri won his award for. Commotion said they took Blackberri’s name from the Facebook page that contained the “singer” name.
“The event was our second annual Black Excellence Awards Gala,” Commotion said. “A creative reminder of the success both historically and recently within the African American community. The event is a catalyst to encourage the community to continue to reach for the stars. We celebrate and honor the advancements and achievements of local POC community leaders.”
Commotion said that they found out about the error when Blackberri posted a notice on his Facebook page that he had won an award, but that the name on the award was wrong. Commotion responded to the notice and told him that his certificate would be redone.
“Facebook is a billion dollar corporation,” Commotion said. “If they won’t change the name they must have guidelines and should explain those guidelines clearly. Many of us are identified by our professional monikers and choose to keep our true identities for those we want to connect with.”
Commotion added that they wanted to apologize for any confusion that the mix-up may have caused.
“I have changed the name and will be contacting Blackberri to pick up his new certificate at his convenience,” Commotion said.
For his part, Blackberri is still hopeful that he will be able to correct the name on his Facebook page.
“It’s so overdue,” he said.
Facebook reps Justin Osofsky and Devon Kearns did not respond to the B.A.R.’s request for a comment.
David-Elijah Nahmod is an American/Israeli of Syrian descent who has lived in New York City and Tel Aviv. Currently in San Francisco, his eclectic writing career has included LGBTQ and Jewish publications, and monster magazines.
The preceding article was previously published by The Bay Area Reporter and is republished with permission.
LGBTQ+ blogsite Joe.My.God celebrates 19 years & counting
As the attacks on the transgender community, drag community, & LGBTQ+ allies worsens, Jervis maintains his ‘call-to-arms’
NEW YORK – Nearly two decades have gone by since journalist, editor, and blogger Joe Jervis created what is arguably the oldest LGBTQ+ politics, culture, lifestyle, and entertainment blog, all from his New York City apartment alongside a feline companion.
In his daily blog Friday, Jervis recounted:
“Today marks the nineteenth blogiversary of this here website thingy. Counting this one, we’re at 138,342 posts over 19 years, the last 15 of which have been without a full day off, although posting on weekends is usually at a slower rate. As I’ve said on this day every year, whether I am insanely committed or am insane and should be committed – that is entirely your call.”
The veteran writer is also very much an activist on issues that impact the LGBTQ+ community both at home in the United States and abroad. He has tirelessly campaigned to advance same-sex marriage, military service for the LGBTQ+ community, battling the far right attacks on the humanity of LGBTQ+ people, and most recently while defending the drag community against unfounded lies, smears, and labeling by the conservative family values politicos and leaders of the various anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups- has pointed out the utter hypocrisy of those very people maintaining a running scorecard of religious leaders being arrested for criminal sexual actions against children. Jervis points out in post after post that not a single drag performer has been arrested nor charged with those types of crimes.
As the attacks on the transgender community, drag community, and even LGBTQ+ allies worsen under the current political environment, Jervis maintains his ‘call-to-arms’ writing:
“On behalf of myself and our tireless tech support guy Jack, who deals with a lot of stupid nonsense at stupid hours, you have our eternal thanks for being part of the rollicking community of “homosexual buccaneers” and straight allies that fight the good fight. The ride will likely only get rougher from here, so hang on. We’ve got the kids and righteousness on our side.”
The politically astute Jervis has certainly gained his share of detractors, but over the past 19 years and with an aggregate total of over nearly 1.3M visitors a month to what he refers to as “this here website thingy,” there is little doubt his reach and his impact will continue to be felt by the LGBTQ+ community, its allies, and beyond.
YouTube demonetizes Matt Walsh after repeated transphobic vitriol
Walsh has been leading boycott of Bud Light for its collaboration with TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney, whom he called “weird & artificial”
By Ari Drennen | WASHINGTON – In a speech at the University of Iowa, self-described “theocratic fascist” and Daily Wire host Matt Walsh complained that his YouTube channel had been stripped of advertiser revenue, which he said was bringing in more than $100,000 per month.
An independent estimate suggests that Walsh’s YouTube revenue could have been as high as $1.6 million per year.
YouTube confirmed the demonetization, with a spokesperson writing, “We suspended monetization on Matt Walsh’s channel due to repeated violations of our YouTube Partner Program policies, which include our Advertiser-Friendly Guidelines. These policies apply equally to all creators, regardless of political viewpoint, and channels that repeatedly violate these policies are demonetized.”
Speaking at University of Iowa, Matt Walsh confirms that his YouTube channel was demonetized for repeatedly attacking Dylan Mulvaney, says that he was making over $100,000 a month — and that he can get it back if he stops misgendering Mulvaney. pic.twitter.com/TIJfVkI5V2— Ari Drennen (@AriDrennen) April 20, 2023
The demonetization, which was announced before the speech in a Twitter thread by Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boering, reportedly comes in response to Walsh’s increasingly vitriolic campaign against Dylan Mulvaney, which escalated after the transgender TikTok star announced a collaboration with Bud Light.
Speaking before an audience of college students, Walsh announced that rather than stop his tirades against Mulvaney, he would make his show free to all viewers on the Daily Wire+ app and would upload episodes to Twitter, suggesting some kind of deal with Twitter CEO Elon Musk. “I truly see the fight against gender ideology as the last stand for Western civilization,” Walsh said. “Because if the sane side loses this, it’s over. It’s over after this.”
Matt Walsh says that starting Monday, his show will be available for free on DailyWire+ — and that the entire show will be uploaded to Twitter every day. pic.twitter.com/vhZp6uIFrA— Ari Drennen (@AriDrennen) April 20, 2023
Walsh has targeted Mulvaney in a series of increasingly vicious attacks over a period of several months, beginning with a rant in which Walsh told the trans influencer, “You are weird and artificial, you are manufactured and lifeless, you are unearthly and eerie.” The monologue led to backlash within right-wing media and was cited by one Daily Wire writer in her decision to leave the company. But Walsh doubled down, saying that he “would rather be dead” than have a trans child. And then, at the start of April, Bud Light sent Mulvaney a can of beer with her face on it.
Walsh, who previously made comments supportive of teenage pregnancy, has a history of spreading anti-trans vitriol. As documented by Media Matters, between mid-February and mid-March, Walsh also repeated his statement about preferring death to a trans child; misgendered and deadnamed a trans woman featured in a Hershey’s chocolate ad (in Canada); defended his colleague Michael Knowles’ call to eradicate “transgenderism … from public life entirely” by claiming to be “in a war against the most deranged ideology ever invented by the human race,” which he called a “parasite”; and called the trans community “a suicide cult.”
YouTube’s hate speech policy promises to “remove content promoting violence or hatred against individuals or groups” based on … “gender identity and expression” and/or “sexual orientation.” Social Blade indicates that two Walsh videos had already been demonetized in April when the Daily Wire host led a boycott against Bud Light for collaborating with Mulvaney. If Walsh’s contract contains provisions similar to those found in the contract offered to Louder with Crowder host Steven Crowder, which stated that being demonetized would lead to a 25% cut in his salary, the loss of YouTube revenue is a huge financial blow to Walsh.
The Daily Wire+ app continues to be available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play store. The Apple App Store’s content guidelines lay out a prohibition on “defamatory, discriminatory, or mean-spirited content, including references or commentary” targeting gender or sexual orientation, especially if the app or content “is likely to humiliate, intimidate, harass, or harm individuals or groups.” The Google Play terms of service similarly forbid “apps that promote violence, or incite hatred against individuals or groups based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, caste, immigration status, or any other characteristic that is associated with systemic discrimination or marginalization.”
Walsh’s move to uploading his show to Twitter comes at a convenient time for the Daily Wire host. Twitter, which was acquired by Elon Musk in 2022, recently updated its terms of service to remove its previous prohibition on targeted misgendering and deadnaming of trans people. Musk recently launched an effort to reassure nervous Twitter advertisers and to convince those who previously abandoned the platform to return. In one recent interview, Musk claimed that Twitter was open to advertiser feedback but that “freedom of speech is paramount.”
Ari Drennen is the LGBTQ program director for Media Matters, where she has worked since January 2022. She has a bachelors degree in political science and economics from Middlebury College. Previously she worked at the Center for American Progress and the League of Conservation Voters
The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished by permission.
Twitter policy ban on misgendering or deadnaming trans folks gone
“Social media companies committed to maintaining safety for LGBTQ people should be working to improve hate speech policies not deleting ones”
SAN FRANCISCO – Earlier this month, Twitter covertly removed the section of the “Hateful Conduct Policy” which the social media giant first enacted in combatting targeted misgendering and deadnaming of transgender people in 2018.
Prior to the policy change, Twitter’s Hateful Content Policy stated:
“We prohibit targeting others with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category. This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.”
The final sentence, specific to transgender users, has since been removed. According to the Wayback Machine, the sentence referring to targeted misgendering and deadnaming was present on April 7th, but was stricken from the policy on April 8th.
The previous version is here, the current version is here.
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis responded to Twitter’s rollback on Tuesday:
“Twitter’s decision to covertly roll back its longtime policy is the latest example of just how unsafe the company is for users and advertisers alike. This decision to roll back LGBTQ safety pulls Twitter even more out of step with TikTok, Pinterest, and Meta, which all maintain similar policies to protect their transgender users at a time when anti-transgender rhetoric online is leading to real world discrimination and violence.
The practice of targeted misgendering and deadnaming has been identified by the ADL and other civil society groups as a form of hate speech. Social media companies committed to maintaining safe environments for LGBTQ people should be working to improve hate speech policies, not deleting long-standing ones.”
Currently, TikTok and Pinterest explicitly prohibit targeted misgendering and deadnaming in their hate and harassment policy, while for both Facebook and Instagram, Meta has publicly stated that they “prohibit violent or dehumanizing content directed against people who identify as LGBTQ+ and remove claims about someone’s gender identity upon their request.”
In 2021, GLAAD joined Media Matters for America and 18 other organizations in calling for YouTube to also align with this as a best practice in their hate speech policy.
You can read the tidal wave of extreme transphobic (& homophobic) replies to any of my tweets to know this headline is true.— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) April 18, 2023
Twitter has become a cesspool of hate against LGBTQ people & especially against trans people.
Twitter now houses a zombie apocalypse army of hate. pic.twitter.com/o81iutlcpf
TikTok to divest from Chinese parent if U.S. security deal fails
GLAAD’s annual Social Media Safety Index gave TikTok a failing score on LGBTQ+ safety, yet the app is popular, especially among LGBTQ+ youth
CULVER CITY – As the battle over TikTok posing a threat to U.S. national security and Americans continues to escalate, Shou Zi Chew, the chief executive of the Los Angeles-based video-sharing app, will make his first appearance before Congress to testify next week.
In contention is that TikTok is wholly and privately owned by Chinese parent company, ByteDance, which has raised bipartisan fears in local and state governments as well as in Congress of the app being used to collect and manipulate users’ data by the Chinese government or related entities.
The controversy surrounding misinformation, addictive content, censorship, and kids’ data allegedly being accessed by the Chinese government in addition to adults has seen several state governments ban the app entirely from state-owned mobile phones, computers, and data pads.
Shou Zi Chew, a Singaporean entrepreneur, will be attempting to skeptical lawmakers on Capitol Hill that his company’s social networking company poses no dangers to Americans, especially children.
TikTok’s LGBTQ+ following has generally positive experiences although there have been widely reported instances of users, notably transgender users seemingly targeted by the platform’s algorithms and having their accounts banned or repeatedly suspended.
Of greater concern is the staggering rise in anti-LGBTQ+ violence and threats on the platform prompting LGBTQ+ advocacy group GLAAD, in its annual Social Media Safety Index, to give TikTok a failing score on LGBTQ+ safety.
Yotam Ophir, an assistant professor of communications at the University at Buffalo, who studies misinformation and extremism, told Scientific American journalist Helen Santoro in a December 2022 interview:
“It’s become pretty clear that the LGBTQ+ community is now at the heart of the new iteration of the culture wars that we have been unfortunately going through in recent years,” he says. This community has become “a staple of right-wing messaging and often propaganda.”
Scientific American reported the false claims and rhetoric used by right-wing extremists dehumanize and vilify the LGBTQ+ community and provoke stochastic terrorism, a phenomenon in which hate speech increases the likelihood that people will attack the targets of vicious claims.
Research has also shown that this type of rhetoric can motivate people to express and possibly act on their prejudiced views.
According to GLAAD, Media Matters for America, and the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI social media plays a crucial role in the spread of this stochastic terrorism to include TikTok.
TikTok to divest from ByteDance if U.S. security deal fails- Report from Yahoo Finance:
RuPaul: “Drag queens are the Marines of the queer movement”
“Register to vote so we can get these stunt queens out of office and put some smart people with real solutions into government”
PROVO, S.D. – 12 time Emmy award winner RuPaul Andre Charles, drag queen, television personality, actor, musician, and model called out the conservative Republicans and extremists who are engaged in legislative and media attacks on LGBTQ+ Americans Wednesday.
In a video posted to his Instagram account, the drag superstar labeled Republican lawmakers passing anti-trans and anti-drag performance bills bullies and said:
“Hey, look over there! A classic distraction technique, distracting us away from the real issues that they were voted into office to focus on: jobs, healthcare, keeping our children safe from harm at their own school.
“But we know that bullies are incompetent at solving real issues. They look for easy targets so they can give the impression of being effective. They think our love, our light, our laughter and our joy are signs of weakness.
“But they’re wrong because that is our strength. Drag queens are the Marines of the queer movement. Don’t get it twisted and don’t be distracted. Register to vote so we can get these stunt queens out of office and put some smart people with real solutions into government.
“And by the way, a social media post has never been as powerful as a registered vote.”
Local math teacher takes son to WeHo nail salon, defies negativity
The toddler’s pre-school teacher scolded him for wanting to paint his nails saying “painting your nails is only for girls”
HOLLYWOOD – Christian Shearhod, who teaches math in Los Angeles County, took his three-year-old son to a West Hollywood nail salon after the toddler’s daycare teacher said “painting your nails is only for girls.”
“My son came home from school upset because his teacher told him that painting his nails is only for girls, so today I’m taking him to the nail shop!” Christian Shearhod said in a TikTok video posted last week.
Shearhod noted that the boy’s daycare teacher had scolded him for wanting to paint his nails, calling it a ‘girls only’ activity.
In an interview with NBC News Shearhod said his son first expressed interest in nail polish around the age of 2.
“Since then, we started painting our nails together,” he said.
Shearhod, in a relationship with his transgender girlfriend Eden, is a straight LGBTQ+ ally and uses his TikTok platform to bolster LGBTQ+ equality and visibility.
After the negativity from his son’s daycare teacher which upset his son, Shearhod told NBC News that he and his girlfriend hoped to cheer the boy up by taking him to the nail salon.
“I really just wanted to make sure that he didn’t have guilt or shame, because it is something that he enjoyed, and we had done together multiple times,” Shearhod said, adding that he wants his son to enjoy life to the fullest at his age, without “strict gender norms.”
The following school day, Shearhod said he spoke with Ashton’s day care teachers.
“I just told them, ‘Hey, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t say that kind of thing to Ashton, kind of let him do his own thing,’” Shearhod told NBC he said to the daycare staff.
@mr.shearhod ♬ Pretty Girls Walk – Big Boss Vette
StanChris asks his Dad some uncomfy questions
LA Blade contributor StanChris is back with a new video where he and his Dad engage in questions around his sexuality and how his Dad views it
LOS ANGELES – It’s a new year and Los Angeles Blade contributor StanChris is back with a new video where he and his Dad engage in questions around his sexuality and how his Dad views it.
Editor’s note: The following video is sponsored by SkillShare which is not endorsed by nor an advertising partner of the Los Angeles Blade.
ASKING MY DAD AWKWARD GAY QUESTIONS:
YouTube Channel Subscribe here!!: (Link)
S O C I A L S & L I N K S
→Instagram: stanchris https://instagram.com/stanchris
→ Twitter: stanchrisss https://twitter.com/stanchrisss
→Spotify: qtboy3 https://open.spotify.com/artist/3deN7…
→Tik Tok: stanchrissss https://www.tiktok.com/@stanchrissss?…
→meme Instagram: woketwink https://instagram.com/woketwink
How rise of school surveillance software affects LGBTQ students
“Should students who identify as LGBTQ be identified from monitoring software, and potentially be disciplined or punished?”
By Anne Wen | NEW YORK CITY – During the pandemic, 15-year-old Desmond Napoles looked up the definition of sexuality out of personal interest on their school-issued tablet. The New York City sophomore did not realize at the time that school administrators and teachers could be alerted to the search.
As schools increasingly monitor students’ online activities, LGBTQ students find themselves at particular risk. The tracking can “out” queer students because the software can notify school officials or law enforcement officers of searches related to sexuality and other topics. And it can make it harder for LGBTQ students, in particular, to access sexual health information online.
The increase in district-issued devices during the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated worries among some queer students, who now feel they are constantly watched by their schools at home and school.
“When you realize that you’re being tracked and you looked up something already, it’s pretty stressful,” said Napoles. The New York City Department of Education did not respond to questions from Youth Today about its use of monitoring software. But the district signed a contract with tracking software company GoGuardian in 2021, according to Bloomberg.
“UNINTENDED BUT HARMFUL CONSEQUENCES”
Eighty-nine percent of teachers surveyed in a spring 2022 Center for Democracy & Technology poll said their school monitors student activity on school-issued or personal devices.
Desmond Napoles (Photo by Aaron Williams)
“When you realize that you’re being tracked and you looked up something already, it’s pretty stressful,” said Desmond Napoles.
“Students are working under the false assumption that certain things — their chats, their documents — are private, when in fact, they’re being actively monitored by the school,” said Cody Venzke, one of the authors of the report. “That can come as a shock for students not aware that what they’re writing in the document they thought was their private journal is in fact being scanned by an algorithm and potentially relayed to school counselors or even law enforcement.”
A U.S. Senate investigation into educational technology companies that sell products to monitor students’ online activity found that the products “raise significant privacy and equity concerns.”
“Studies have highlighted unintended but harmful consequences of student activity monitoring software that fall disproportionately on vulnerable populations: artificial intelligence and algorithmic systems frequently mischaracterize students’ activity and flag harmless activity as a ‘threat,’ and students from minority or marginalized communities, including students of color and LGBTQ students, are far more likely to be flagged,” according to the Senate report, which focused on companies including Gaggle, GoGuardian, Bark Technologies and Securly Inc.
The Senate report noted research showing that algorithms used in the products are more likely to flag language used by people of color and LGBTQ students as problematic, and that, since LGBTQ students largely prefer to seek help online, some of these monitoring tools’ website filtering features “frequently” prevent them from accessing health information by flagging words related to sexual orientation.
“The impacts of these shortcomings range from disproportionate disciplinary rates of LGBTQ students to unintentional outing of LGBTQ students to parents and other adults,” according to the Senate report.
In responses to the Senate investigation, the companies emphasized their commitments to student safety. Gaggle, which reports its products are used by about 1,500 school districts, provided a list of more than a dozen school superintendents and officials who had agreed to serve as references for their products.
Gaggle and GoGuardian, two major companies providing surveillance software to schools, declined interview requests from Youth Today.
But in an emailed statement, Gaggle said that its software had helped save the lives of 1,562 students who were planning or actively attempting suicide last school year and noted that LGBTQ youth were four times more likely to consider or attempt suicide than their peers. The company also cited a Gaggle-sponsored white paper that found 85% of educators reported the monitoring software helps reduce the harassment of LGBTQ students.
GoGuardian sent a statement reading, in part, “GoGuardian believes that our schools and classrooms should be spaces where all students are treated equitably and have the opportunity to learn and thrive.”
The company noted its work with experts to strengthen “internal resources” in support of marginalized communities, citing recent educational content and a webinars produced in partnership with The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and mental health organization for LGBTQ youth.
In a statement to Youth Today, a spokesperson for The Trevor Project wrote that the nonprofit does not partner with GoGuardian and does not plan to do so. Earlier this fall, The Trevor Project returned a $25,000 donation from Gaggle, citing concerns about the software’s “role in negatively impacting LGBTQ students.”
“TECHNOLOGY COULD HAVE BEEN A LIFESAVER”
Photo courtesy of Chris Wood
Chris Wood, executive director of LGBTQ Tech, a nonprofit that provides tech policy advice about LGBTQ individuals, believes that schools ask students to use the services with good intentions, but the inadvertent effects of monitoring make schools less safe for queer students.
“If you can’t have a supportive environment at home, then you look to a supportive environment, in the places that you’re at most often, like a public school or a library,” Wood said. “And if you’re then making it harder for them to gain access to those resources, through monitoring or filtering, then you’re creating an environment where we’re creating a mental health nightmare.”
Wood also said that the web filters many districts use to protect students against sexual content, may also inadvertently block advice that helps LGBTQ individuals without supportive biological families.
The way some districts use monitoring software may particularly harm students of color who are LGBTQ, Wood noted, by exposing them to a disparate risk of discipline due to their online activity.
“Technology could have been a lifesaver. It could have been an opportunity for an individual to explore their identity and have safe and equitable conversations about their identity” Wood said. “Instead, we’re doing quite the opposite.”
To better serve students, teachers should connect LGBTQ students with more resources so that they can come to terms with their identity, said Maria Dolores Cimini, a psychologist and behavioral health researcher at the State University of New York at Albany.
“Should students who identify as LGBTQ be identified from monitoring software, and potentially be disciplined or punished, that is inappropriate,” Cimini said. “It is something that could negatively affect their mental health and could even increase increased concerns such as depression, anxiety, and even risk for suicide.”
Photo courtesy of Maria Dolores Cimini
Wendy Napoles, Desmond’s mother, is thankful for the New York school district’s use of filters to prevent students from viewing inappropriate content such as pornography on district devices. Both she and Desmond Napoles acknowledged that the monitoring software can provide safety, especially if a student’s search history reveals chronic mental health problems.
But the potential to track a student’s search history, including topics related to sexuality and gender, feels like an invasion of privacy, Wendy Napoles said.
“I’m just really worried, as Desmond is, about who is looking at this, and what are they doing with that data?” Wendy Napoles said. “Are teachers seeing it, where they may not have known a child was part of the LGBTQ community, and are they going to treat that child differently?”
Anne Wen is a Guam-based journalist who covers college education and Pacific islands for The Guardian, Teen Vogue, Pacific Daily News, and Youth Today.
The preceding article was previously published by Youth Today & is republished with permission.
League Of Legends’ first gay black game character censored
“The straightwashing of queer characters from games proves that there is nothing more important than making the most money”
SAN FRANCISCO – At the global gaming championship tournament ‘Worlds 2022′ held this weekend in the City by the Bay, Riot Games’ League Of Legends executive producer Jeremy Lee told British media outlet Sky News gaming reporter Martin Kimber, the company removes some references to LGBTQ+ people in countries in which same-sex marriage or being LGBTQ+ is illegal.
Riot Games, which is owned by Chinses Tech Media powerhouse conglomerate Tencent, has introduced the first gay black character of K’Sante into its League Of Legends with great fanfare including a promotional campaign with Out singer-rapper Lil Nas X.
Lil Nas X gave a performance at the Opening Ceremony during the Worlds Finals on Nov 5, an event that was hosted and promoted by Riot Games.
League is a phenomena as one of the most played video games across the world. Since its release in October 2009, League has been free-to-play and is monetized through purchasable character customization. The game is available on the Microsoft Windows and macOS platforms along with a mobile version and has spawned tournaments, numerous spin-off games and merchandise.
League’s gamers take on the role of champions in teams to work together to achieve objectives, and each has a backstory composed for them by the game’s writers.
Lee told Sky News he was “very proud” of the new character and that Riot Games wants “everyone who plays League Of Legends to find a champion that resonates with them”.
But he admitted that “each region can localise and publish that story in what they feel like is best for the players”.
“Each region may publish certain aspects of the game a little bit differently to fit into the local culture,” he added.
Tencent’s global public relations lead Hanna Woo told Sky News when asked whether the company makes changes or omissions to the storyline behind some characters to suit the regime under which the game is published, she admitted: “Yes, I would say we do.”
Ben Austwick, known by his Twitch streamer handle of “biggusbennus” twitch.tv/biggusbennus told Sky he saw the admission of censorship by Riot Games as; ‘straightwashing shows money is most important.
“Video games are part of culture and should be at the forefront pushing boundaries, especially in places where LGBT+ oppression is rife,” Austwick said.
“The straightwashing of queer characters from games in countries with a poor record of LGBT+ rights is sad and proves that there is nothing more important than making the most money,” he added.
Massive layoff spurs lawsuit & increased fear of anti-LGBTQ Twitter
“As a company, Twitter has a right, and a responsibility, to keep its platform from being exploited to fuel a dangerous media environment”
SAN FRANCISCO – In a company-wide email sent out Thursday evening, Twitter employees worldwide were informed that the now privately controlled company, by billionaire Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, would be laying off nearly half of the workforce.
Musk last week completed his $44 billion acquisition of the company, and has already commenced restructuring the social media platform after his initial take-over when he dissolved the Twitter board of directors and now acts as the social media company’s sole director.
In the hours after acquiring Twitter in late October, Musk in addition to the board fired Twitter’s chief executive Parag Agrawal, as well as Vijaya Gadde, who ran the social media company’s legal, policy and trust teams.
He has also demanded company employees to find new sources of revenue and in a widely condemned move announced that the verified user blue check would be a monthly fee based status which prompted celebrities, journalists, and other currently verified users to protest or leave the platform saying the diluted fee-based “check” would be useless and open to rampant abuse.
🚨Ben Collins, NBC News: “Twitter employees want to stress that the company is a nightmare right now and you cannot work there. And the website is built on sticks and it might fall apart. It’s a house of cards.” “Elon is deeply out of his depth.” “This could be really bad.” pic.twitter.com/MLh9fGe1NV— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) November 4, 2022
One of those affected Politico reported Friday, Joan Deitchman, who was a senior engineer in Twitter’s machine learning, ethics, transparency and accountability team, wrote on the platform that the unit — whose job included research on how to improve transparency around automated algorithms — had been completely disbanded. That work is central to how regulators are now looking to police social media, including how potentially hate-filled content is promoted automatically across these platforms.
“All that is gone,” she said according to Politico.
As Musk made these changes, several large advertisers on the platform paused or stopped prompting the tech billionaire allege in a tweet: “Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists. […] They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.”
Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 4, 2022
Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.
Hate speech on the platform with effective and fair content moderation, particularly that aimed at transgender Americans is a major concern to LGBTQ+ advocacy groups.
In a statement, Jay Brown, HRC Senior Vice President of Programs, Research, and Training, said:
“We are very concerned about Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. Musk has pledged to restore the accounts of dangerous people who push extremism and disinformation. When this happens, Twitter – a place where many marginalized people, including LGBTQ+ people, find both community and face an onslaught of hate – will quickly become even more hostile. Adding insult to injury, Musk’s reported plans to cut staff levels – including employees who provide moderation – are deeply troubling.
As a company, Twitter has a right, and a responsibility, to keep its platform from being exploited to fuel a dangerous media environment. This isn’t about censorship or discrimination of ideas – it is about what kind of company they want to be and what kind of world they want to shape.”
Bloomberg business correspondent Josh Eidelson reported Twitter was sued Friday in a proposed class action for conducting a mass layoff without the required 60 day notice as provided in California and federal law.
Twitter Inc. was sued over Elon Musk’s plan to eliminate about 3,700 jobs at the social-media platform, which workers say the company is doing without enough notice in violation of federal and California law.
A class-action lawsuit was filed Thursday in San Francisco federal court. The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act restricts large companies from mounting mass layoffs without at least 60 days of advance notice.
The lawsuit asks the court to issue an order requiring Twitter to obey the WARN Act, and restricting the company from soliciting employees to sign documents that could give up their right to participate in litigation.
Scoop: Twitter was just sued in a proposed class action for conducting a mass layoff without the required 60 day notice https://t.co/lMoxDMo7W1— Josh Eidelson (@josheidelson) November 4, 2022
Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) released the following statement following Elon Musk’s announcement that he has laid off half of Twitter’s workforce:
“Today’s move by Elon Musk to mass-fire 50% of Twitter’s employees, including many San Franciscans, is deeply concerning, particularly after Musk fired the executives responsible for enhancing user safety on the platform. While companies periodically engage in layoffs to acknowledge economic realities, firing a full half of employees goes well beyond that.
“Combined with Musk’s signals that he will allow toxic accounts back onto the platform — thus leading to targeting and incitement of violence against LGBTQ people, Jews, people or color, and others — I see trouble ahead for Twitter, its users, and our democracy.”
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