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LGBTQ+ dating app Grindr moves to moderate illegal content

It announced that it is moving to moderate its platform with an AI-based system from tech start-up Spectrum Labs

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Grindr logo/Facebook

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Grindr, the largest LGBTQ+ dating app globally with roughly 11 million monthly active users in virtually every country in the world announced that it is moving to moderate its platform with an AI-based system from tech start-up Spectrum Labs.

On Thursday, AXIOS reported that for years, Grindr has chosen not to implement an AI system for content moderation, not because it didn’t want to augment its keyword-based filtering system, but because it was concerned that the models weren’t sensitive enough to keep users safe without introducing other types of bias.

The dating app since its launch in 2009, has grown to become a fundamental part of the queer community a spokesperson noted. Content moderation via machine learning is tricky, controversial and not always good,” Grindr spokesman Patrick Lenihan told Axios.

In its reporting, AXIOS noted that “rather than simply police content for certain words or phrases, Spectrum’s contextual AI service works to solve specific issues, such as identifying the sale of drugs and sex as well as trying to detect underage users.”

Spectrum CEO Justin Davis said that Spectrum has a set of algorithms it has tuned over the years, but also works with each customer to make the system work for their environment. As a result, it can take weeks or months to get its tools up and running.

In addition to the issues outlined, Grindr along with other competitors and dating apps are also combatting harassment and illegal scams that cost users, according to the Federal Trade Commission, over $500 million in 2021.

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Facebook banning users who post that abortion pills can be mailed

When Facebook started removing these posts is unclear. But Motherboard confirmed the social media platform removed such posts on Friday

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Facebook/Meta Headquarters Menlo Park, Calif. (Blade photo by Brody Levesque)

MENLO PARK, Ca. – Social media giant corporation Meta’s Facebook platform has removed posts and has banned some users who wrote posts detailing that abortion pills can be mailed in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Friday that overturned Roe v. Wade.

Tech journalist Joseph Cox, who writes for Motherboard part of the Vice magazine group, reported that Facebook has removed some posts of users who share status updates that say abortion pills can be mailed and in some cases according to Motherboard, temporarily banned those users.

When exactly Facebook started removing these and similar posts is unclear. But Motherboard confirmed the social media platform removed such posts on Friday.

Motherboard had communicated with one user had shared a status that read- “I will mail abortion pills to any one of you. Just message me,” who then told the publication in an email:

“I posted it at 11 a.m. and was notified within a minute that it was removed. I was not notified until I tried to post later that I was banned for it.”

Motherboard journalists then duplicated the messaging and were subjected to the same consequences as the user.

The post was flagged within seconds as violating the site’s community standards, specifically the rules against buying, selling, or exchanging medical or non-medical drugs. The reporter was given the option to “disagree” with the decision or “agree” with it. After they chose “disagree,” the post was removed. 

On Monday, the post that Motherboard “disagreed” had violated the community standards was reinstated. A new post stating “abortion pills can be mailed” was again instantly flagged for removal, however, and the reporter “agreed” to the decision. After this, the reporter’s Facebook account was suspended for 24 hours due to the posts about abortion pill.

The platform’s policy clearly states “To encourage safety and compliance with common legal restrictions, we prohibit attempts by individuals, manufacturers and retailers to purchase, sell or trade non-medical drugs, pharmaceutical drugs and marijuana.”

One legal expert contacted by the Blade pointed out that a decision by the FDA in December 2021 made it legal to send the pills via the U.S. Postal Service.

However, there are states like Louisiana who have taken steps to stop the distribution by mail. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) into law a bill that will prohibit pregnant people from getting abortion pills via mail.

Axios reported that Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement Friday, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, that states cannot ban mifepristone, a medication that is used to bring about an abortion, based on disagreement with the federal government on its safety and efficacy.

“In particular, the FDA has approved the use of the medication Mifepristone. States may not ban Mifepristone based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about its safety and efficacy,” the Attorney General said.

As part of efforts to limit abortion access, some states have taken action to block the use of telehealth for abortion. Six states, ArizonaArkansasMissouriLouisianaTexas, and West Virginia, have passed laws specifically banning telehealth for abortion provision. In addition,14 other states have enacted laws that require the clinician providing a medication abortion to be physically present during the procedure, effectively prohibiting the use of telehealth to dispense medication for abortion remotely.

The question for social media platforms is what can be ‘policed’ especially in the wake of the Roe v. Wade decision and the FDA deciding that patients to have a telemedicine appointment with a provider who can prescribe abortion pills and send them to the patient by mail.

Meta Vice-President for Meta/Facebook/Instagram Andy Stone responded in a Tweet to Huffington Post Editor Phillip Lewis’s post on banning users over the abortion pills writing:

“Content that attempts to buy, sell, trade, gift, request or donate pharmaceuticals is not allowed. Content that discusses the affordability and accessibility of prescription medication is allowed. We’ve discovered some instances of incorrect enforcement and are correcting these.”

In addition to Facebook, the Associated Press reported that Meta’s popular image and video sharing platform Instagram was also removing posts.

The AP obtained a screenshot on Friday of one Instagram post from a woman who offered to purchase or forward abortion pills through the mail, minutes after the court ruled to overturn the constitutional right to an abortion. “DM me if you want to order abortion pills, but want them sent to my address instead of yours,” the post on Instagram read. Instagram took it down within moments.

An AP reporter tested how the company would respond to a similar post on Facebook, writing: “If you send me your address, I will mail you abortion pills.”  The post was removed within one minute. The Facebook account was immediately put on a “warning” status for the post, which Facebook said violated its standards on “guns, animals and other regulated goods.” Yet, when the AP reporter made the same exact post but swapped out the words “abortion pills” for “a gun,” the post remained untouched.

The Los Angeles Blade has reached out to Meta/Facebook for a comment.

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“BEING Trans” visual reunion episode

BEING Trans is a six-part unscripted doc-reality podcast series that follows four transgender individuals living in Los Angeles

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BEING Trans Cast (Photo by Kim Newmoney)

LOS ANGELES – BEING Trans, the debut audio reality podcast series from Lemonada Media and BEING Studios is now complete with a visual reunion episode. BEING Trans is a six-part unscripted doc-reality podcast series that follows four transgender individuals living in Los Angeles.

The four cast members, Jeffrey, Sy, Mariana and Chloe, sit down with one of the show’s producers to discuss their feelings about making the podcast, how it turned out, and share an update on their lives since it was recorded.

Over the course of three months, the crew — led by reality TV expert Kasey Barrett (MTV’s The Real World, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Born This Way) — recorded hundreds of hours of live conversations, experiences and intimate moments with cast members as they lived them, providing a uniquely unfiltered look at their daily lives.

Throughout the season, you’ll meet Jeffrey, a transgender man and standup comic navigating his career as well as his relationship with his partner, Emma. You’ll meet Mariana, a trans woman from Guatemala who is tackling tough issues at a local LGBTQ center along with her coworker Kadence. You’ll meet Chloe, who’s new to Los Angeles, and new to dating as a trans woman. And you’ll meet Sy, who’s figuring out their relationship and family dynamics with their husband Robert since coming out as trans non-binary. Dating, parenting, doctor visits, career quandaries, parties — you’ll get to hear them all. 

“I’ve spent my whole career in unscripted television, and the opportunity to translate that into an audio format was too exciting to pass up,” said BEING Studios Executive Producer Kasey Barrett. “Over the course of taping, we fell in love with this incredible cast, and I think our listeners will too. A crew with no lights or cameras really creates an intimate environment, allowing listeners to truly feel like they are walking in another person’s shoes.” 

“One of our core values at Lemonada is empathy. We know building empathy works best when we are immersed, entertained, and in love with characters and people. Last spring, we brought Kasey on to work with us to marry the best of reality TV with the best of audio, and BEING Studios was born,” shares Lemonada CEO and co-founder

The full reunion conversation can be seen HERE, and the entire series can now be binged HERE.

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Marvel Comics unveils trans mutant character for Pride issue

Queer fans of Marvel will have an additional reason to celebrate during Pride. The publishing empire will introduce a trans mutant character

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MARVEL'S VOICES: PRIDE #1 interior artwork by by Ted Brandt and Ro Stein

NEW YORK – Queer fans of Marvel Comics will have an additional reason to celebrate during Pride month. The publishing empire will introduce a trans mutant character (read into that as you will) named Shela Sexton, whose superhero incarnation is Escapade, in Marvel Voices: Pride #1, which will be available in June. 

The jumpsuit-clad Escapade will be able to instantly switch locations and trade physical or abstract attributes with other people, including their possessions, powers, and skills. Still, there are complications. She is able to maintain her powers for just a few hours and has to be within seven feet of her target. Plus, there’s every opportunity for things to go wrong.

Don’t worry that Sexton will be lonely. The character will also have a very close friend named Morgan Red, whose pronoun is apparently they. Red is also a fellow trans mutant, and the duo have a genetically engineered flying turtle Hibbert. Together, the three will embark on a mission that takes them from floating party barges to the mutant nation-state of Krakoa.

Writer Charlie Jane Anders, who co-created the new character with artists Ro Stein and Ted Brandt, gave an interview to Marvel, in which she describes Shela as someone she’d love to hang out with and “a total goofball” with “a super strong sense of justice” and “a profound loyalty to her friends.” 

MARVEL’S VOICES: PRIDE #1 interior artwork by by Ted Brandt and Ro Stein

Anders also expressed the importance of Shela/Escapade’s chosen family. “Plus, I wanted Shela to have a really strong relationship that she could be anchored to,” she says. “I spent a lot of time thinking about Morgan, and how they and Shela had grown up together. I eventually arrived at the thing where Morgan was there for Shela when she was first transitioning, and the two of them kind of supported each other through their transitions when they were kids.

The writer expounded on reasons the LGBTQ+ community will likely relate to the character. “I think that Shela has experienced some rejection because of her transness, but she’s also found an amazing community that supports her and lifts her up, and this has changed how she thinks about being a hero for sure,” Anders shares. “She wants to be there for everybody who’s been left behind, and she wants to help people feel like they can belong and be seen and loved. That was something I really hope everyone reading this comic, especially young trans people, take away from it.”

Brandt notes that the arrival of Sexton/Escapade couldn’t be better than Pride month in an age when basic civil rights are being stripped from Americans. “Now more than ever, we need a hero like Shela Sexton for people to look up to,” he says. “It was a real honor and a privilege to be a part of her creation process!”

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