Connect with us

Online Culture

Vlogger StanChris; The BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

StanChris is holding a game show on his YouTube channel and he wants YOU to apply!

Published

on

Photo via StanChris YouTube

LOS ANGELES – The twenty-something StanChris, the Out YouTuber who has been building his audience on his YouTube channel by vlogging about the ordinary everyday experiences of his life as a young gay guy is back- this time holding a game show on his YouTube channel and he wants YOU to apply!

Send any submissions & share on google drive to [email protected]

The BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

********************

S O C I A L – L I N K S

→Instagram : stanchris https://instagram.com/stanchris

→ Twitter : stanchrisss https://twitter.com/stanchrisss

Subscribe here!!: https://youtube.com/c/stanchris

Watch more: https://youtu.be/rjI4c7nSXkw

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Social Media Platforms

Instagram battles financial sextortion scams, blurs DM nudity

When sending or receiving these images, people will be directed to safety tips, developed with guidance from experts, about potential risks

Published

on

Instagram app start up screen on iPhone/Los Angeles Blade graphic

Editor’s note: The following article is provided as a public service for readers regarding actions taken by Instagram, a social media platform, dealing with a subject of general interest and concern. The Los Angeles Blade has not verified the information contained herein.

By Meta Public & Media Relations | MENLO PARK, Calif. – Financial sextortion is a horrific crime. We’ve spent years working closely with experts, including those experienced in fighting these crimes, to understand the tactics scammers use to find and extort victims online, so we can develop effective ways to help stop them.

Today, we’re sharing an overview of our latest work to tackle these crimes. This includes new tools we’re testing to help protect people from sextortion and other forms of intimate image abuse, and to make it as hard as possible for scammers to find potential targets – on Meta’s apps and across the internet. We’re also testing new measures to support young people in recognizing and protecting themselves from sextortion scams.

These updates build on our longstanding work to help protect young people from unwanted or potentially harmful contact. We default teens into stricter message settings so they can’t be messaged by anyone they’re not already connected to, show Safety Notices to teens who are already in contact with potential scam accounts, and offer a dedicated option for people to report DMs that are threatening to share private images. We also supported the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in developing Take It Down, a platform that lets young people take back control of their intimate images and helps prevent them being shared online – taking power away from scammers.

Takeaways:

  • We’re testing new features to help protect young people from sextortion and intimate image abuse, and to make it more difficult for potential scammers and criminals to find and interact with teens.
  • We’re also testing new ways to help people spot potential sextortion scams, encourage them to report and empower them to say no to anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • We’ve started sharing more signals about sextortion accounts to other tech companies through Lantern, helping disrupt this criminal activity across the internet.

Introducing Nudity Protection in DMs

While people overwhelmingly use DMs to share what they love with their friends, family or favorite creators, sextortion scammers may also use private messages to share or ask for intimate images. To help address this, we’ll soon start testing our new nudity protection feature in Instagram DMs, which blurs images detected as containing nudity and encourages people to think twice before sending nude images. This feature is designed not only to protect people from seeing unwanted nudity in their DMs, but also to protect them from scammers who may send nude images to trick people into sending their own images in return.

Nudity protection will be turned on by default for teens under 18 globally, and we’ll show a notification to adults encouraging them to turn it on.

When nudity protection is turned on, people sending images containing nudity will see a message reminding them to be cautious when sending sensitive photos, and that they can unsend these photos if they’ve changed their mind.

Screenshots showing a message reminding user to be cautious when sending sensitive photos.

Anyone who tries to forward a nude image they’ve received will see a message encouraging them to reconsider.

Screenshots showing a message encouraging them to reconsider when a nude image is forwarded.

When someone receives an image containing nudity, it will be automatically blurred under a warning screen, meaning the recipient isn’t confronted with a nude image and they can choose whether or not to view it. We’ll also show them a message encouraging them not to feel pressure to respond, with an option to block the sender and report the chat.

Screenshots showing an automatically blurred under a warning screen when someone receives an image containing nudity.

When sending or receiving these images, people will be directed to safety tips, developed with guidance from experts, about the potential risks involved. These tips include reminders that people may screenshot or forward images without your knowledge, that your relationship to the person may change in the future, and that you should review profiles carefully in case they’re not who they say they are. They also link to a range of resources, including Meta’s Safety Centersupport helplinesStopNCII.org for those over 18, and Take It Down for those under 18.

Screenshots showing safety tips about the potential risks involved when sending or receiving these images.

Nudity protection uses on-device machine learning to analyze whether an image sent in a DM on Instagram contains nudity. Because the images are analyzed on the device itself, nudity protection will work in end-to-end encrypted chats, where Meta won’t have access to these images – unless someone chooses to report them to us.

“Companies have a responsibility to ensure the protection of minors who use their platforms. Meta’s proposed device-side safety measures within its encrypted environment is encouraging. We are hopeful these new measures will increase reporting by minors and curb the circulation of online child exploitation.” — John Shehan, Senior Vice President, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

“As an educator, parent, and researcher on adolescent online behavior, I applaud Meta’s new feature that handles the exchange of personal nude content in a thoughtful, nuanced, and appropriate way. It reduces unwanted exposure to potentially traumatic images, gently introduces cognitive dissonance to those who may be open to sharing nudes, and educates people about the potential downsides involved. Each of these should help decrease the incidence of sextortion and related harms, helping to keep young people safe online.” — Dr. Sameer Hinduja, Co-Director of the Cyberbullying Research Center and Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University.

Preventing Potential Scammers from Connecting with Teens

We take severe action when we become aware of people engaging in sextortion: we remove their account, take steps to prevent them from creating new ones and, where appropriate, report them to the NCMEC and law enforcement. Our expert teams also work to investigate and disrupt networks of these criminals, disable their accounts and report them to NCMEC and law enforcement – including several networks in the last year alone.

Now, we’re also developing technology to help identify where accounts may potentially be engaging in sextortion scams, based on a range of signals that could indicate sextortion behavior. While these signals aren’t necessarily evidence that an account has broken our rules, we’re taking precautionary steps to help prevent these accounts from finding and interacting with teen accounts. This builds on the work we already do to prevent other potentially suspicious accounts from finding and interacting with teens.

One way we’re doing this is by making it even harder for potential sextortion accounts to message or interact with people. Now, any message requests potential sextortion accounts try to send will go straight to the recipient’s hidden requests folder, meaning they won’t be notified of the message and never have to see it. For those who are already chatting to potential scam or sextortion accounts, we show Safety Notices encouraging them to report any threats to share their private images, and reminding them that they can say no to anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.

For teens, we’re going even further. We already restrict adults from starting DM chats with teens they’re not connected to, and in January we announced stricter messaging defaults for teens under 16 (under 18 in certain countries), meaning they can only be messaged by people they’re already connected to – no matter how old the sender is. Now, we won’t show the “Message” button on a teen’s profile to potential sextortion accounts, even if they’re already connected. We’re also testing hiding teens from these accounts in people’s follower, following and like lists, and making it harder for them to find teen accounts in Search results.

New Resources for People Who May Have Been Approached by Scammers

We’re testing new pop-up messages for people who may have interacted with an account we’ve removed for sextortion. The message will direct them to our expert-backed resources, including our Stop Sextortion Hubsupport helplines, the option to reach out to a friend, StopNCII.org for those over 18, and Take It Down for those under 18.

We’re also adding new child safety helplines from around the world into our in-app reporting flows. This means when teens report relevant issues – such as nudity, threats to share private images or sexual exploitation or solicitation – we’ll direct them to local child safety helplines where available.

Fighting Sextortion Scams Across the Internet

In November, we announced we were founding members of Lantern, a program run by the Tech Coalition that enables technology companies to share signals about accounts and behaviors that violate their child safety policies.

This industry cooperation is critical, because predators don’t limit themselves to just one platform – and the same is true of sextortion scammers. These criminals target victims across the different apps they use, often moving their conversations from one app to another. That’s why we’ve started to share more sextortion-specific signals to Lantern, to build on this important cooperation and try to stop sextortion scams not just on individual platforms, but across the whole internet.

*****************************************************************************************

The preceding article was previously published by Instagram here: (Link)

Continue Reading

Social Media Platforms

Social Media platforms still lagging on critical LGBTQ+ protections

All Social Media platforms should have policy prohibitions against harmful so-called “Conversion Therapy” content

Published

on

Photo by Dan Balinovic

By Leanna GarfieldJenni Olson | NEW YORK – GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization released new reports documenting the current state of two important LGBTQ safety policy protections on social media platforms. 

The reports show how numerous platforms and apps (including, most recently Snapchat) are increasingly adopting two LGBTQ safety protections that GLAAD’s Social Media Safety Program advocates as best practices for the industry: firstly, expressly stated policies prohibiting targeted misgendering and deadnaming of transgender and nonbinary people (i.e. intentionally using the wrong pronouns or using a former name to express contempt); and secondly, expressly stated policies prohibiting the promotion and advertising of harmful so-called “conversion therapy” (a widely condemned practice attempting to change an LGBTQ person’s sexual orientation or gender identity which has been banned or restricted in dozens of countries and US states). 

GLAAD

Major companies that have such LGBTQ policy safeguards include: TikTokTwitchPinterestNextDoor, and now Snapchat.

Companies lagging behind and failing to provide such protections include: YouTubeBlueSkyLinkedInReddit, and MastodonX/Twitter and Meta’s InstagramFacebook, and Threads have received partial credit due to “self-reporting” requirements.

related

“Now is the time for all social media platforms and tech companies to step up and prioritize LGBTQ safety,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “We urge all social media platforms to adopt, and enforce, these policies and to protect LGBTQ people — and everyone.”

Companies will have another opportunity to be acknowledged for updating their policies later this year. To be released this summer, GLAAD’s annual Social Media Safety Index report will feature an updated version of the charts.

Conversion Therapy

GLAAD

The widely debunked and harmful practice of so-called “conversion therapy” falsely claims to change an LGBTQ person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, and has been condemned by all major medical, psychiatric, and psychological organizations including the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association. Globally, there has been a growing movement to ban “conversion therapy” at the national level. As of February 2024, 14 countries have such bans, including Canada, France, Germany, Malta, Ecuador, Brazil, Taiwan, and New Zealand. In the United States, 22 states and the District of Columbia have restrictions in place.

Expressing concurrence with GLAAD’s Social Media Safety Program guidance, IFTAS (the non-profit supporting the Fediverse moderator community) stated in a February 2024 announcement: “Due to the widespread and insidious nature of expressing anti-transgender sentiments in bad faith, it’s imperative to have specific policy addressing this issue.” Further explaining the rationale behind such policies, the IFTAS announcement continues: “This approach is considered a best practice for two key reasons: it offers clear guidance to users, and it assists moderators in recognizing and understanding the intent behind such statements. It’s important to reiterate that the focus is not about accidentally getting someone’s pronouns wrong. Rather, our concern centers on deliberate and targeted acts of hate and harassment.” 

Conveying appreciation to companies but also highlighting the need for policy enforcement, GLAAD’s new reporting notes that while the policies mark significant progress: “These new policy additions do not solve the extremely significant other related issue of policy enforcement (a realm in which many platforms are known to be doing a woefully inadequate job).” 

There is broad consensus and building momentum toward protecting LGBTQ people, and especially LGBTQ youth, from this dangerous practice. However, “conversion therapy” disinformation, extremist scare-tactic narratives, and the profit-driven promotion of such services continues to be widespread on social media platforms, via both organic content and advertising. And, as a December 2023 Trevor Project report reveals, “conversion therapy” continues to happen in nearly every US state.

Thankfully, more tech companies and social media platforms are taking leadership to address the spread of content that promotes and advertises “conversion therapy.” In December 2023, the social platform Post added an express prohibition of such content to their policies, and in January 2024 Spoutible did the same. That same month, in response to key stakeholder guidance from GLAAD, IFTAS (the non-profit supporting the Fediverse moderator community) crafted sample policy language and implemented an “IFTAS LGBTQ+ Safety Server Pledge” system for the Fediverse, in which servers can sign-on confirming they have incorporated a policy prohibiting both the promotion of “conversion therapy” content and targeted misgendering and deadnaming. In February, Snapchat also added both prohibitions into their Hateful Content and Harmful False or Deceptive Information community guidelines policies.

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis acknowledged this recent progress, saying to The Advocate: “Adopting new policies prohibiting so-called ‘conversion therapy’ content puts these companies ahead of so many others. GLAAD urges all social media platforms to adopt, and enforce, this policy and protect their LGBTQ users.”

A January 2024 report from the Global Project on Hate & Extremism (GPAHE) illuminates how many social media companies and search engines are failing to mitigate harmful content and ads promoting “conversion therapy.” The report outlines the enormous amount of work that needs to be done, and offers many examples of simple solutions that platforms can and should urgently implement. Recommendations from the report are listed below.

In February 2022, GLAAD worked with TikTok to have the platform add an explicit prohibition of content promoting “conversion therapy.” TikTok updated its community guidelines to include the following: “Adding clarity on the types of hateful ideologies prohibited on our platform. This includes … content that supports or promotes conversion therapy programs. Though these ideologies have long been prohibited on TikTok, we’ve heard from creators and civil society organizations that it’s important to be explicit in our Community Guidelines.”

In 2022, GLAAD also urged both YouTube and Twitter (now X) to add an express prohibition of “conversion therapy” into their content and ad guidelines. While X does not currently have such a policy, YouTube, with the assistance of its AI systems, does mitigate “conversion therapy” content by showing an information panel from the Trevor Project that reads: “Conversion therapy, sometimes referred to as ‘reparative therapy,’ is any of several dangerous and discredited practices aimed at changing an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.” However, unlike TikTok and Meta, YouTube does not include an explicit prohibition in its Hate Speech Policy.

Meta’s Facebook and Instagram (and by extension Threads which is guided by Instagram’s policies) currently do have such a prohibition (against: “Content explicitly providing or offering to provide products or services that aim to change people’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”). However it is listed separately from the company’s standard three tiers of content moderation consideration as requiring, “additional information and/or context to enforce.” GLAAD has recommended that it be elevated to a higher priority tier. In addition to this content policy, Meta’s Unrealistic Outcomes ad standards policy also prohibits: “Conversion therapy products or services. This includes but is not limited to: Products aimed at offering or facilitating conversion therapy such as books, apps or audiobooks; Services aimed at offering or facilitating conversion therapy such as talk therapy, conversion ministries or clinical therapy; Testimonials of conversion therapy, specifically when posted or boosted by organizations that arrange and provide such services.”

Among other platforms, it is notable that the community guidelines of both Pinterest and NextDoor include a prohibition against content promoting or supporting “conversion therapy and related programs.” While Twitch’s community guidelines expressly state that: “regardless of your intent, you may not: Encourage the use of or generally endorsing sexual orientation conversion therapy.” As mentioned above, Post and Spoutible also have amended their policies, with Spoutible’s new guidelines being the most extensive:

Prohibited Content: Any content that promotes, endorses, or provides resources for ‘conversion therapy.’ Content that claims sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed or ‘cured.’ Advertising or soliciting services for ‘conversion therapy.’ Testimonials supporting or promoting the effectiveness of ‘conversion therapy.’

Spoutible’s policy also thoughtfully outlines these exceptions:

Content that discusses ‘conversion therapy’ in a historical or educational context may be allowed, provided it does not advocate for or glorify the practice. Personal stories shared by survivors of ‘conversion therapy,’ which do not promote the practice, may be permissible.

In addition to GLAAD’s advocacy efforts advising platforms to add prohibitions against content promoting “conversion therapy” to their community guidelines, we also urge these companies to effectively enforce these policies.

To clarify even further, all platforms should add express public-facing language prohibiting the promotion of “conversion therapy” to both their community guidelines and advertising services policies. While some platforms have described off-the-record that “conversion therapy” material is prohibited under the umbrella of other policies — policies prohibiting hateful ideologies, for instance — the prohibition of “conversion therapy” promotion should be explicitly stated publicly in their community guidelines and other policies.

When such content is reported, it’s also important for moderators to make judgments about the content in context, and distinguish between harmful content promoting “conversion therapy” versus content that mentions or discusses “conversion therapy” (i.e. counter-speech). As a 2020 Reuters story details, social media platforms can provide a space for “conversion therapy” survivors to share their experiences and find community.

GLAAD also urges all platforms to review and follow the below recommendations from the Global Project on Hate & Extremism (GPAHE):

To protect their users, tech companies must:

  • Use common sense when evaluating whether content violates rules on conversion therapy and remember that it is dangerous, and sometimes deadly, to allow pro-conversion therapy material to surface. It is quintessential medical disinformation.
  • Invest in non-English, non-American cultural and language resources. The disparity in the findings for non-English users is stark.
  • Elevate authoritative resources in the language being used for the terms found in the appendix.
  • Incorporate “same-sex attraction” and “unwanted same-sex attraction” into their algorithm that moderates conversion therapy content and elevate authoritative content.
  • Create or expand the use of authoritative information boxes about conversion therapy, preferably in the language being used.
  • All online systems must keep up with the constant rebranding and use of new terms, in all languages, that the conversion therapy industry uses.
  • Refrain from defaulting to English content in non-English speaking countries where possible, and if this is the only content available it must be authoritative and translatable.
  • All companies must avail themselves of civil society and subject matter experts to keep their systems current.
  • Additional recommendations from previous GPAHE research.

Source: Conversion Therapy Online: The Ecosystem in 2023 (Global Project Against Hate & Extremism, Jan 2024)

An earlier version of this overview first appeared in Tech Policy Press and was adapted from the 2023 GLAAD Social Media Safety Index report. The next report is forthcoming in the summer of 2024.

The preceding article was previously published by GLAAD and is republished by permission.

Continue Reading

Social Media Platforms

Meta announces new guidelines for teens on Instagram-Facebook

Implementation of the new polices means teens will see their accounts placed on the most restrictive settings on the platforms

Published

on

Entrance sign to Meta headquarters campus in Menlo Park, California. (Los Angeles Blade file photo)

MENLO PARK, Calif. – Social media giant Meta announced Tuesday that new content policies for teens restricting access to inappropriate content including posts about suicide, self-harm and eating disorders on both of its largest platforms, Instagram and Facebook.

In a post on the company blog, Meta wrote:

Take the example of someone posting about their ongoing struggle with thoughts of self-harm. This is an important story, and can help destigmatize these issues, but it’s a complex topic and isn’t necessarily suitable for all young people. Now, we’ll start to remove this type of content from teens’ experiences on Instagram and Facebook, as well as other types of age-inappropriate content. We already aim not to recommend this type of content to teens in places like Reels and Explore, and with these changes, we’ll no longer show it to teens in Feed and Stories, even if it’s shared by someone they follow

“We want teens to have safe, age-appropriate experiences on our apps,” Meta said.

Implementation of the new polices means teens will see their accounts placed on the most restrictive settings on the platforms, the caveat being that the teen didn’t lie about their age when they set the accounts up.

Other changes the company announced include:

To help make sure teens are regularly checking their safety and privacy settings on Instagram, and are aware of the more private settings available, we’re sending new notifications encouraging them to update their settings to a more private experience with a single tap. If teens choose to “Turn on recommended settings”, we will automatically change their settings to restrict who can repost their content, tag or mention them, or include their content in Reels Remixes. We’ll also ensure only their followers can message them and help hide offensive comments.

Related

In November, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the public release of a largely unredacted copy of the federal complaint filed by a bipartisan coalition of 33 attorneys general against Meta Platforms, Inc. and affiliates (Meta) on October 24, 2023.

Co-led by Attorney General Bonta, the coalition is alleging that Meta designed and deployed harmful features on Instagram and Facebook that addict children and teens to their mental and physical detriment.

Highlights from the newly revealed portions of the complaint include the following:

  • Mark Zuckerberg personally vetoed Meta’s proposed policy to ban image filters that simulated the effects of plastic surgery, despite internal pushback and an expert consensus that such filters harm users’ mental health, especially for women and girls. Complaint ¶¶ 333-68.
  • Despite public statements that Meta does not prioritize the amount of time users spend on its social media platforms, internal documents show that Meta set explicit goals of increasing “time spent” and meticulously tracked engagement metrics, including among teen users. Complaint ¶¶ 134-150.
  • Meta continuously misrepresented that its social media platforms were safe, while internal data revealed that users experienced harms on its platforms at far higher rates. Complaint ¶¶ 458-507.
  • Meta knows that its social media platforms are used by millions of children under 13, including, at one point, around 30% of all 10–12-year-olds, and unlawfully collects their personal information. Meta does this despite Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress in 2021 that Meta “kicks off” children under 13. Complaint ¶¶ 642-811.

The Associated Press reported that critics charge Meta’s moves don’t go far enough.

“Today’s announcement by Meta is yet another desperate attempt to avoid regulation and an incredible slap in the face to parents who have lost their kids to online harms on Instagram,” said Josh Golin, executive director of the children’s online advocacy group Fairplay. “If the company is capable of hiding pro-suicide and eating disorder content, why have they waited until 2024 to announce these changes?”

Continue Reading

Online Culture

Did Marvel Comics just reveal a classic X-Men character is trans?

Until now, the X-Men have never had a trans member That may have just changed with the publication of X-Men Blue: Origins #1

Published

on

X-Men antihero Mystique was portrayed by actress Jennifer Lawrence in four films. (Disney/Los Angeles Blade graphic)

By Rob Salerno | HOLLYWOOD – Marvel Comics’ mutant superheroes the X-Men have always been a metaphor for the struggle against prejudice, boasting a diverse cast of characters that have represented a wide spectrum of characters of different races, sexual orientations, and even species. But until now, the X-Men have never had a trans member.

That may have just changed with the publication of X-Men Blue: Origins #1 by Si Spurrier, Wilton Santos, and Marcus To this week, a story that finally gives the full origin of the mysterious Nightcrawler, who had previously been established as the son of the shape-changing Mystique and a demon named Azazel – all three characters who have appeared in Fox’s X-Men films.

Courtesy Marvel Comics

Be warned, spoilers follow from here.

In the new issue, Mystique finally confesses the truth of Nightcrawler’s birth. As Mystique now tells it, she didn’t actually give birth to Nightcrawler – her female partner and longtime lover Destiny did. And Nightcrawler’s father? Well, Nightcrawler’s biological father is actually Mystique, who explains that with her shape-changing powers, she has lived as both male and female.

Does that make Mystique trans? Well, the T-word is never actually uttered in the comic, but Mystique’s own words when Nightcrawler protests that she’s female are a firm rejection of the gender binary.

“Don’t be pathetic. I have lived for years as sapiens males. Years more as females. Do you know what I have observed? They’re all as awful as each other. The only true binary division lies not between the genders or sexes or sexualities. It lies between those who are allowed to be who they wish, and those denied that right,” she says.

Courtesy Marvel Comics.

The revelation isn’t entirely unprecedented. It has long been known in fan circles that Mystique’s creator and longtime X-Men writer Chris Claremont had intended to reveal that Mystique and Destiny were Nightcrawler’s parents, but that Marvel Comics wouldn’t permit queer characters in their books in the 1980s. 

Eventually Marvel reversed that policy, and Mystique and Destiny’s relationship is a main story in current X-Men comics, with Marvel even referring to them as “the greatest love story in mutant history” in a recent press release. Marvel has also published comics set in an alternate universe where Mystique is portrayed as male. 

While more openly trans characters have appeared in mainstream comics in recent years, these characters have mostly been relegated to guest-starring and supporting characters. For example, Marvel introduced the trainee member Escapade in the X-Men spinoff comic New Mutants last year, while Marvel’s TV shows Jessica Jones and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law gave both heroines trans assistants. 

Mystique is now arguably the highest-profile trans character in mainstream superhero comics, as a major character in comics’ biggest franchise, and having been portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence and Rebecca Romijn in seven X-Men films.

Drawing of Mystique kissing Destiny – Variant Cover to X-Men Blue: Origins #1, art by Russel Dauterman, courtesy Marvel Comics.

Early reaction to the story has been incredibly positive from X-Men’s queer fandom.

“The heart of the story is Mystique embodying the trans ideal of complete and total bodily autonomy, transcending sex and gender to create life with the woman she loves,” wrote @LokiFreyjasbur on Twitter.

Marvel Comics is wholly owned by Disney.

Marvel advancing a story about a gender-nonconforming character flies in the face of a disturbing recent trend in corporate America of being overly cautious about LGBT issues in the wake of far-right backlash after Bud Light partnered with a trans influencer and Target put up its annual Pride display.

******************************************************************************************

Rob Salerno is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

Continue Reading

Online Culture

TikTok video of Cody Conner, a Virginia Beach dad, is going viral

“I’m here to tell you that if your love makes somebody not want to be alive, it’s not love. That’s not love”

Published

on

Cody Conner, a father of three kids gave a passionate speech to the Virginia Beach City Public Schools' board meeting supporting LGBTQ+ kids. (Photo Credit: Cody Conner/Facebook)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va, – Cody Conner, a father of three kids gave a passionate speech supporting LGBTQ+ kids during the Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ board meeting last month that was uploaded as a TikTok video that has since gone viral.

Conner excoriated the board for considering implementation of Republican Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s anti-trans school policies.

“You are never going to find a right way to do the wrong thing and Governor Youngkin’s policies are wrong,” Conner told the board.

“Never in history have the good guys been the segregationist group pushing to legislate identity,” he said. “Never in history have the good guys been closely connected with and supported by hate groups like the Proud Boys. And the good guys don’t put Hitler quotes for inspiration on the front of their newsletters. News flash: they’re the bad guys. They’re the bad guys supporting bad policy. And if you support the same bad policy, guess what? You’re one of the bad guys too.”

“When you look around and see only the wrong people supporting what you’re doing, you’re doing the wrong thing.“ Now you’ve heard some speakers come up here and say how they love these kids but won’t accept them. I’m here to tell you that if your love makes somebody not want to be alive, it’s not love. That’s not love.

“Some of you are going to get up here and say ‘it’s the law.’ Well, I remind you that slavery and segregation used to be the law here in Virginia.”

“I just knew I couldn’t standby and do nothing, just let it happen and hope everything worked out ok and I also wanted to make sure my kid knew that I would stand up for them,” Conner explains as he begins to tear up. “My big job as a parent is not to tell my children who they are, it’s not to make the decisions for them, it’s not to live their life or decide what their life is going to be, but to show them the best way I know how to walk through this world.”

According to PRIDE journalist Ariel Messman-Rucker, Conner moved his family to Virginia Beach right before Youngkin’s policies passed and he worries about the future of his 13-year-old trans daughter who is now in the 8th grade. The family moved from rural Virginia to Virginia Beach so that their kid, who came out as trans a year ago, would be in a school system that would be supportive, but that all changed because of Youngkin.

The 42-year-old father told PRIDE he’s a quiet person and might not have made the choice to speak up if not for his kids.

Virginia’s Department of Education at the direction of the Governor has set out “model policies” for public schools that require students to use the bathroom and sports team that matches their sex at birth.

The policies require written instruction from parents for a student to use names or gender pronouns that differ from the official record, meaning that teacher can deadname students—refer to them by their prior name—if paperwork isn’t filled out by the parents and it requires the school to inform parents if a student is questioning their identity, according to 13 News Now.

LGBTQ+ rights activists including Equality Virginia have stated these policies will be especially detrimental to LGBTQ+ students who come from conservative non-affirming homes.

The Virginia Beach School Board in a 9-1 vote approved an updated policy for transgender and nonbinary students.

The new policy will require teachers to use pronouns and names that are on official record with exceptions for nicknames commonly associated with the student’s legal name. If a student requests anything else, teachers will be required to report it to the parents. Students must also use bathrooms and participate in sports teams that correspond to their assigned sex. 

@beezay22 #CapCut #virginia #virginiabeach #schoolboard #schoolboardmeetings #lgbtqiaplus #transrightsarehumanrights #protecttranskids #stoptransgenocide #fyp ♬ original sound – BeezayDad

Continue Reading

Online Culture

Baldur’s Gate 3 is the Queerest AAA Video Game Yet

The game is earning accolades, smashing sales expectations, and making pansexuality the norm

Published

on

Image via Larian Studios Games Ltd.

By Eric Tannehill | GHENT, Belgium – Baldur’s Gate 3 (BG3) is a fantasy role playing game (RPG) based on the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition ruleset for game mechanics. It was released on August 3rd, 2023 to widespread critical acclaim.

Unusually for a AAA game, it had spent six years in development, and almost three years of that in early access open beta testing. Larian Studios developed BG3 as a sequel to the first two games, which were released in 1998 and 1999 respectively. 

It’s hard to overstate how the game has outperformed expectations. Microsoft, which distributes the game through the Xbox platform, expected very little of it.  In a leaked document from the FTC v. Microsoft court case, Microsoft took a very dim view of the game’s prospects.

According to Microsoft internal documents, they called BG3 a “Second-run Stadia PC RPG”, predicted as little as $5 million in revenue from the game, and ranked it behind the “Let’s Sing ABBA” karaoke game in terms of expected sales. 

Instead, almost 10 million copies have been sold on Steam as of September 20th, with gross revenue surpassing a half-billion dollars. Larian expected perhaps 100,000 users online at any given time, and instead saw a peak of 870,000 simultaneously. 

The game itself has done well in great part due to the outstanding voice acting, motion captured cut-scenes, excellent dialogue scripting, immersive characters, strong story lines, attention to detail in the game, and a nearly infinite number of possible endings that are dependent on the player’s choices.

The game’s flexibility allows the player to solve challenges in a myriad of different ways. The game feels immersive, with the non-player characters (NPCs) you interact with being engaging and interesting enough for players to become emotionally invested in them (instead of treating them like disposable meat-shields, unless you’ve decided on a sociopath playthrough, which is absolutely a thing the game allows you to do).

However, none of this addresses just how queer-friendly this game is from start to finish, and how this hasn’t prevented its success. On the contrary, it’s likely been a selling point rather than a hindrance. 

During character creation, the game allows you to pick male or female voices with any body type. You can choose male, female, or non-binary pronouns, and even select the genitals your characters have. All of these choices are independent of one another. Then there’s the “paper doll” aspect to clothing. If you kill the evil high priestess of a cult and steal her magic dress, you can absolutely put your male NPCs in it.

There’s even a certain in-game logic to this: who has time for getting weird about gender norms, when you need every advantage you can get to save the world? Besides, it ends up with a bit of an Aqua-man vibe to it.

Screenshot/Larian Studios Games Ltd.

The queerness doesn’t stop there. There are romance options with many of the NPC companions you take with you on your adventures, and every one of them is canonically pansexual. They don’t care about your character’s genitals, pronouns, race, or class; it’s all about the choices you make as the player in dialogue, as well as how you pursue your in-game agenda. This would feel somewhat tacked on if the characters weren’t so well developed, and if it didn’t take 50+ hours of gameplay to explore these options.

This isn’t to say that the game forces it on you; they’re just options. If the player wants a completely gender and hetero-normative play-through, they can make that choice. If an NPC flirts with you in-game, you always have the option of picking the “not interested” dialogue option, and that’s the end of that.

Some of the darker corners of the internet have taken umbrage with all the options Larian provides in the game, but that obviously hasn’t stopped the game from selling a ridiculous number of copies. It has  exceeded all expectations, and been labelled a “masterpiece” by game reviewers. The character design is fantastic and has inspired legions of fans already.

The “go woke, go broke” mantra certainly didn’t hold  true here, and detractors haven’t gained real traction…perhaps because getting upset over imaginary video game characters in a fantasy world having imaginary queer identities seems sillier than playing a fantasy RPG in the first place.

********************************************************************************

Eric Tannehill is a student & trans activist living in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Continue Reading

Online Culture

Meta allowing misinfo & hate speech to proliferate on Threads

Meta released a statement admitting its not extending its fact-checking- users have flooded Threads with racist & anti-LGBTQ hate speech

Published

on

Graphic by Andrea Austria for Media Matters

By Ethan Collier | WASHINGTON – Since its launch on July 5, Meta’s Threads has surpassed 100 million users, including far-right figures and extremists, and the platform quickly became rife with harmful content as Meta carved out exceptions to its community guidelines

As Media Matters previously reported, Meta launched Threads without the fact-checking program that aims to prevent the spread of misinformation on Facebook and Instagram and seemingly abandoned hate speech policies. The company even succumbed to complaints from right-wing users such as Ian Miles Cheong and Donald Trump Jr., dropping warning labels the platform initially placed on accounts with a history of spreading misinformation and restoring a post from anti-LGBTQ social media account Libs of TikTok that was previously removed as hate speech. 

Since Media Matters last documented misinformation and hate speech on Threads, top right-wing accounts have posted harmful content dozens more times — which Meta has not moderated.

Meta has allowed right-wing accounts to continue posting election and health misinformation, as well as conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden

Right-wing users on Threads have been able to peddle unchecked misinformation about the “rigged” 2020 election, COVID-19 vaccines, and abortion.

  • Media Research Center supported podcaster Joe Rogan’s absurd claim that Joe Biden’s victory was “rigged by the media,” stating, “He’s right. The media stole the presidency in 2020.” 
  • Epoch Times reporter and NTD News host Joshua Philipp claimed that “people have been conditioned during the COVID-19 pandemic to obey totalitarian policies they likely would have never gone along with in the past.”
  • The Threads account for former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast shared a clip on Thursday featuring Naomi Wolf, who accused a prominent pharmaceutical company of committing fraud when it sought emergency authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine as proof that “people would have been worse off with the vaccine than without the vaccine, which is literally what we now know they are in terms of COVID and other side-effects.”
  • Founder of anti-abortion organization Live Action Lila Rose claimed, “It’s easy to ignore a statistic but it’s harder to ignore a story. Exposing the brutality of abortion—2500 children killed a day—is difficult, because the world likes to look the other way & abortion’s victims are nameless & voiceless babies.”
  • Live Action’s own Threads account is seemingly entirely dedicated to pushing dangerous claims about abortion, such as one post stating that birth control is “further promoting the sexual revolution’s agenda of convincing women that our liberation is chained to suppressing our fertility and killing our babies.” 
  • OutKick host Tomi Lahren complained that “confused Libs” are advocating for women’s rights when they “don’t know what a woman is” and instead “protect abortion and mutilation.” 

Despite a lack of evidence, right-wing figures baselessly claimed that a small amount of cocaine recently found in an area of the White House frequented by visitors and tour groups really belonged to Hunter Biden.

  • Rogan O’Handley, known online as DC Draino, wrote that it is “wild to me that Joe Biden helped pass the 1994 crime bill which imprisoned millions of black men for drug crime,” but “now when Hunter brings cocaine into the White House 30 years later, he gets a free pass once again.”
  • Donald Trump Jr. also raised suspicions, stating: “Absolutely no one watching is surprised that the most heavily secured, monitored, and guarded house in the world could not figure out the culprit! What exactly does insufficient DNA mean? It means… Hunter Biden!!!”
  • Right-wing personality Terrence K. William posted a meme implying the cocaine found in the White House is Hunter Biden’s.

Threads still isn’t enforcing the hate speech policies that govern Instagram, allowing users to post anti-LGBTQ, racist, and anti-immigrant rhetoric

Anti-LGBTQ attacks on Threads often include transphobic rhetoric and the “groomer” slur, as well as dangerous claims that the LGBTQ community is trying to “sexualize, sterilize and butcher” children. 

  • Conservative commentator Brandon Tatum posted a video with the caption “The LGBTQ community is being used to destroy the black community further!”
  • Teacher and host of the right-wing education podcast The Chalkboard Heresy Show Frank McCormick claimed, “Not even summer camp is safe from these exploitative groomers.” 
  • Far-right and anti-LGBTQ account Gays Against Groomers reposted an image of its tweet that read, “No one cares that you’re gay or trans. They care that you’re trying to sexualize, sterilize and butcher children.”
  • Grant Godwin, also known online as “The Typical Liberal,” shared a video proposing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would require trans men to register for the draft. He stated, “I like where Rep. Tim Burchett’s head is at! Wanna be a boy? Time to do boy stuff. Or, hear me out, we can get back to reality.” 
  • PragerU ambassador and former Today Is America president Xaviaer DuRousseau captioned a photo of Charlize Theron with her children: “Adopting two sons just to force them into dresses and a mentally ill lifestyle is so feral. This should be illegal.” 
  • The Babylon Bee posted a link to its article misgendering U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Rachel Levine, for which the right-wing website’s account was previously suspended on Twitter (before being unilaterally restored under new owner Elon Musk).

Racist, anti-immigrant, and xenophobic hate speech on the platform have included fearmongering about an “invasion” of “illegal aliens,” the uncensored use of racial slurs, including the N-word, and attacks on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and representation.

  • Right-wing media personality and neo-Nazi collaborator Jack Posobiec has used Threads to spread cruel attacks against undocumented immigrants, falsely claiming that “illegal aliens are sex trafficking children and Joe Biden is helping them.”
  • A video posted twice of white supremacist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes saying the N-word has not been taken down in over a week. 
  • Bannon’s War Room linked to an Axios report on migration numbers with the caption: “It’s Called an Invasion—and Nations are finally waking up.” 
  • Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk mocked the diverse casting of the live-action reboot of Snow White, calling it “Snow White and her DEI Dwarfs” and suggesting that “Disney has lost $900 million at the box office on recent films, and something tells me that figure is only going to get worse.” 

******************************************************************************************

The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished by permission.

Continue Reading

Online Culture

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’

Published

on

Veteran blogger and journalist Joe Jervis with an admiring drag queen. (Photo Credit: Jervis/Facebook)

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.

Continue Reading

Online Culture

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”

Published

on

Graphic by Andrea Austria for Media Matters

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.”

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.”

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.

Continue Reading

Online Culture

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”

Published

on

Twitter corporate headquarters in San Francisco, Calif. (Screenshot/YouTube KGO 7 ABC Bay Area)

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.

Continue Reading

Popular