Chris Hughes, the gay co-founder of Facebook, has published an op-ed in the New York Times calling on the government to break up the monolithic social media company.
In a lengthy and detailed piece, Hughes makes the argument why the company’s control over so much of modern American life is a danger to society. The company also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, controlling the vast majority of popular social media platforms.
“It’s been 15 years since I co-founded Facebook at Harvard, and I haven’t worked at the company in a decade,” Hughes writes after listing some of the company’s recent scandals. “But I feel a sense of anger and responsibility.”
Hughes is careful to point out that his friend and former business associate, Mark Zuckerburg, has good intentions, but also doesn’t shy away from pointing out his missteps and troubling amount of power he wields.
Hughes suggests spinning the other two social media sites off as separate companies and says Congress should create a new federal agency to monitor tech companies. The new agency’s prime purpose should be privacy concerns, he posits.
“Mark is still the same person I watched hug his parents as they left our dorm’s common room at the beginning of our sophomore year. He is the same person who procrastinated studying for tests, fell in love with his future wife while in line for the bathroom at a party and slept on a mattress on the floor in a small apartment years after he could have afforded much more,” he writes.
“In other words, he’s human. But it’s his very humanity that makes his unchecked power so problematic.”
“Mark is a good, kind person,” Hughes continues. “But I’m angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks. I’m disappointed in myself and the early Facebook team for not thinking more about how the News Feed algorithm could change our culture, influence elections and empower nationalist leaders. And I’m worried that Mark has surrounded himself with a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them.”
“The government must hold Mark accountable.”
Written By: Bil Browning. 09 May 2019. Life. Lgbtqnation.com
Facebook said on Thursday (2 May) it has permanently banned several alt-right, anti-Semitic, and other controversial figures from their platform.
Among those banned include alt-right voices Milo Yiannopoulos and Infowars’ Alex Jones, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, and Laura Loomer.
According to reports, Facebook said they banned these figures for being ‘dangerous’.
‘We’ve always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology,’ the social media company said in a statement. ‘The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to our decision to remove these accounts today.’
As part of the ban, Facebook removed official accounts, fan pages, and groups affiliated with the individuals. One such group is Jones’ Infowars, a far-right conspiracy and fake news website.
Who are these figures?
Yiannopoulos is a gay, alt-right figure. He has previously been banned from Twitter and even countries like Australia. He has previously made comments about wanting journalists to be ‘gunned down’ and called transgender people mentally ill.
Farrakhan, meanwhile, has made numerous anti-Semitic remarks before. His ties to leadership of the Women’s March have led to splintering in the movement.
Jones is a known conspiracy theorist and inflammatory far-right radio host. He’s criticized drag queen story time at libraries and was also involved in a gay sexual harassment scandal.
Another figure Facebook is banning is Paul Nehlen.
A self-described ‘pro-White Christian Candidate’, Nehlen unsuccessfully ran for Congress. Then Breitbart removed him last year for his ties to neo-Nazis and racist comments about Meghan Markle.
Praise for the decision
Many activists and civil rights leaders have long been calling for these types of figures to be removed from social media platforms. They have also been calling for a stricter crackdown on neo-Nazi content and more.
‘The reality is, people are getting killed. There are mass shootings and mass murders that are clearly being connected to ideas like white genocide, which are fueling radicalization,’ said Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters.
‘The conditions have changed. When you have these massive catalyzing moments that are connected to real-life consequences, it puts pressure on Facebook and others to look in the mirror.’
None of the banned people have responded yet.
Written by: Anya Crittenton. 02 May 2019. Gaystarnews.com
The Royal Canadian Mint has unveiled its new $1 ‘equality coin’, honoring the progress of civil rights for ‘LGBTQ2’ Canadians.
Canada’s Minister of Finance Bill Morneau unveiled the coin today via a Facebook Live stream.
The unveiling ceremony took place at The 519 Center – an LGBTI center in the heart of Toronto’s gay village.
It has been created to mark 50 years since the beginning of the process of decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada.
The new coin combines the words ‘EQUALITY-ÉGALITÉ’ and features the work of Vancouver artist Joe Average.
It enters into circulation today. Only 3 million of the coins will be produced.
‘The equality coin recognizes their triumphs’
Commenting, Bill Morneau said: ‘For the past 50 years and beyond, Canadians have fought for their right to love, marry, start a family and live openly as their most authentic selves.’
He continued: ‘The equality coin recognizes their triumphs and encourages all of us to build a better, more inclusive Canada – because like the coin itself, the more equality we have in Canada, the richer we all are.’
‘Today is an important day for the LGBTQ2 community, and for all Canadians, as this commemorative coin enters circulation,’ said Randy Boissonnault, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 Issues. ‘It is an opportunity to reflect on a landmark event in our country’s history, and a reminder of the progress still to be made as we work toward inclusion and equality for all LGBTQ2 Canadians.’
Written by: Jamie Tabberer. 23 April 2019. Gaystarnews.com
The popular gay hookup app Grindr is up for sale after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has determined that the app’s purchase by Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd presents a “national security risk.”
The company has partially owned the app since 2016 and completely took over ownership in 2018. The company announced last year that it was planning an initial public offering, but that plan has been scrapped as Kunlun moves to unload the property.
The company is reportedly planning to auction the app off and is reaching out to investment firms and competitors to gauge interest.
Foreign investors are required to submit their purchase of an American company to the CFIUS for review, but Kunlun did not submit the required paperwork for review. The agency does not reveal the reasons behind its decisions since it could potentially reveal classified information by US intelligence agencies.
Experts, however, say the agency has focused on privacy concerns lately and Grindr keeps highly personal information about it’s users like HIV status, contact information, sexual preferences, and pictures of users – frequently including naked photos. American users and prominent LGBTQ activists had also expressed similar concerns.
Senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal sent a letter to Grindr last year questioning how the app would protect users’ privacy after the purchase.
The app recently shuttered it’s blog, INTO, after the publication ran a story accusing the straight company president, Scott Chen, of being anti-marriage equality. Chen quickly fired back, saying he was mistranslated, but employees resigned in protest shortly before the site was closed down.
Written By: Bil Browning. 27 March 2019. lgbtqnation.com
State-funded faith-based adoption agencies in Michigan can no longer discriminate against LGBTI people.
The decision comes under a legal settlement announced Friday (22 March). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the state on behalf of two lesbian couples and a woman who was in foster care in her teens.
The organization and Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel reached the agreement that faith-based agencies funded by the state cannot turn down LGBTI individuals or couples on religious grounds.
Nessel said in a statement: ‘Discrimination in the provision of foster care case management and adoptions services is illegal, no matter the rationale.
‘Limiting the opportunity for a child to be adopted or fostered by a loving home not only goes against the state’s goal of finding a home for every child, but it is also a direct violation of the contract every child-placing agency enters into with the state.’
Non-discrimination in Michigan
The lawsuit alleged St Vincent Catholic Charities and Bethany Christian Services turned same-sex couples away based on their sexuality.
They were thought to be protected under a 2015 Republican-enacted law which meant child-placement agencies are not required to provide services that interfere with their religious beliefs.
However, as Michigan contracts private agencies to place children with new families, the law doesn’t apply to the services provided under a contract with the Department of Health and Services.
Under the settlement, the state’s non-discrimination provisions apply to these agencies. This means they cannot turn away otherwise qualified LGBTI people from adopting or fostering kids. Also, it bars them from refusing to perform orientation or training, a home study, or process applications.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who represented St Vincent among other charities, said it will stop the state from working with religious charities.
Attorney Lori Windham said in a statement: ‘The result of that will be tragic. Thousands of children will be kept from finding the loving homes they deserve. This settlement violates the state law protecting religious adoption agencies.’
Kirsty and Dana Dumont, from Dimondale, expressed joy in their statement: ‘We are hopeful that this will mean more families for children, especially those who have been waiting years for a family to adopt them.
‘And we can’t wait to welcome one of those children into our family.’
Written by: Tom Capon. 23 March 2019. gaystarnews.com
It appears that Tumblr has seen a significate drip in traffic after the company put into place new policies prohibiting adult content on the site.
Beginning in December 2018 Tumblr started prohibiting “photos, videos or GIF’s that showed human genitals.” Traffic to the site fell from 521million hits per month in December to 437 million in January. February didn’t fare any better; traffic was down to 370 million views.
Upon announcement of the new rules, and met with criticism from photographers and artists in the LGBTQ community, who felt the move is disproportionally affecting queer people. Artist Courtney Trouble criticized the move, saying “the Tumblr ban on adult content will affect queer and trans users by taking away a vital social component to a community that is bound together by their sexual orientation and sexual desire. Without social media that allows this kind of exploration, we are losing a lot.” Several activists organized a “log-off” protect in the hopes of sending a message to Tumblr bosses.
A Canadian tech company Netsweeper is coming under fire for allegedly providing filtering software that censors LGBT content to anti-LGBT governments.
Both All Out and R3D have joined forces to bring this issue to light. The two organizations are asking the Canadian company to stop providing the filters to homophobic governments. The broader issue is they want the company to ensure clients are not using the technology to violate human rights.
Activists have started an online petition to end all censorship against LGBT individuals. They have also reached out to the Canadian government which is now reviewing their recommendations.
‘Helping countries like the UAE censor LGBTI content online, including life-saving information on HIV prevention, is a gross violation of international human rights guidelines,’ Senior Campaigns Manager at All Out Yuri Guaiana told Gay Star News.
‘We are glad the Canadian government agreed to review our recommendation that any additional financial support to Netsweeper will be made conditional on their commitment to human rights.’
Guaiana furthermore said that more than 27,000 people have signed the petition so far. They are asking Netsweeper to stop providing these filters censoring content identified as ‘Alternative Lifestyles’.
‘We’ll keep demanding that,’ Guaiana also added.
This is not the first time that Netsweeper has faced criticism.
Just last year Citizen Lab and security and human rights research group released a report on the use of Netsweeper in at least 10 countries, most cited for systematic human right problems. The group analyzed the countries of Afghanistan, Bahrain, India, Kuwait, Pakistan, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, UAE, and Yemen.
‘Netsweeper’s services can easily be abused to help facilitate draconian controls on the public sphere by stifling access to information and freedom of expression,’ said Ronald Deibert, who runs Citizen Lab.
The detailed reports how the software works, in effect the software blocks Google searches for the LGBT-related keywords and non-pornographic websites by mischaracterizing them as sexually explicit.
Squirrel News has reached out to Netsweeper for comment but has not received a response.
Scientists are speaking out against a directive by the Trump administration that has shut down research into a cure for HIV.
A scientist who was supposed to supply mice that have been modified with human fetal tissue for an HIV study emailed researchers that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “has directed me to discontinue procuring fetal tissue.”
“This effectively stops all of our research to discover a cure for HIV,” he wrote.
A “pause” on research that uses aborted fetal tissue, something Christian conservatives strongly oppose, was announced by the Trump administration this past September. The move will affect numerous biomedical research programs.
Congressional Republicans have tried to ban all fetal tissue research for years to appease the religious right. 85 Republican House members wrote a letter to the head of the FDA asking for a ban on fetal tissue research shortly before the “pause” was announced.
The ban has long been a goal of the anti-abortion industry and has been part of the most recent attacks on Planned Parenthood. The group was falsely accused of selling aborted fetuses earlier this year.
In a statement, the NIH said that there is only a “pause in place” on the research, which is “an action NIH thought was prudent given the examination of these procurements.”
“We were all poised to go and then the bombshell was dropped,” said Warner Greene, director of the Gladstone Center for HIV Cure Research. Greene was about to collaborate with the Montana lab on HIV research when the project came to a halt.
“The decision completely knocked our collaboration off the rails. We were devastated.”
The study would have relied on fetal tissue donated by women who have had legal abortions in order to produce “humanized mice,” mice that have human-like immune systems, according to Science. The mice have been used for years for research in infectious diseases, including HIV.
Mice are one of the few non-human animals that can be infected with HIV, which makes them key to testing HIV medication.
Researchers at the lab were going to test a promising antibody they developed to prevent HIV from developing reservoirs, which are cells infected with HIV but are not producing the virus. These cells aren’t affected by currently available HIV medication.
“You spend your life trying to do good experiments and organize your science carefully, and suddenly, at the whim of some politicians in Washington, D.C., they remove a critical piece of your scientific armamentarium,” Greene said.
On September 28, researcher Kim Hasenkrug, who was supposed to provide humanized mice for Greene’s study on the HIV antibody, sent an email to Greene explaining that HHS told them to stop using fetal tissue.
[HHS] has directed me to discontinue procuring fetal tissue from ABR, the only source for us. I think that they are the only provider of fetal tissue for scientists in the nation who don’t have direct access to aborted fetal tissue. This effectively stops all of our research to discover a cure for HIV.
“The mice were ready,” Greene said. “Just as we’d shipped antibody [to Montana], we were ready to go, and boom, the rug was pulled out from underneath us.”
It is unclear whether non-NIH labs that receive NIH funding will also be banned from using fetal tissue. If so, even more research will be affected.
“Everything I am doing involves humanized mice. It would shut my lab down if we were not able to use fetal tissues,” said Jerome Zack, who has used humanized mice for 25 years to study HIV at UCLA.
But Greene said that the NIH’s actions have already slowed down progress on a cure.
“If we were given the green light right now, it would probably take us a year to get back in the position we were in when the ban was put in place,” he said.
Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services announced a new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division that would handle complaints from health care providers who did not want to take part in an abortion or treat transgender people.
Written by: Alex Bollinger. 10 December, 2018. LGBTQNation.com
Scott Chen president of Grindr, one of the world’s largest gay dating and hook-up app recently wrote on Facebook.
Chen in his post wrote: “Some people think the marriage is a holy matrimony between a man and a woman. And I think so too. But that’s your own business. Some people think the purpose of the marriage is to have a child carries your DNA. But again, that’s your own business.”
He continued, “Marriage is personal. Why can’t you use your money to help the people suffer from poverty, hunger, war or disasters? Why would you want to spend your money on preventing people who love each other from getting married? There is nothing else more important in your life?”
“Yes. I won’t purchase any HTC product in my life,” he concluded, “and I won’t donate to any Christian organization based in Taiwan.”
Chen later elaborated on his views, reassuring everyone that he does support marriage equality:
The reason I said marriage is a holy matrimony between a man and a woman is based on my own personal experience. I am a straight man married to a woman I love and I have two beautiful daughters I love from the marriage. This is how I feel about my marriage. Different people have their different feelings about their marriages. You can’t deny my feelings about my marriage.
I took down this post because there were some heated discussions and my aunt was involved there. She was a really nice Taiwanese lady in her 60s and she is a very convinced Christian like my Dad. I love my aunt. I no longer want her to see the discussion this post so I changed the settings to Friend of Friends and excluded her.
I am a huge advocate for LGBTQ+ rights since I was young. I support gay marriage and I am proud that I can work for Grindr.
At the start of 2018, Grindr was acquired by the China-based tech firm Kunlun Group. Chen originally began as the company’s CTO before becoming president.
The New York Times reports Chen previously posted social media messages promoting LGBTQ rights in China and Taiwan.
This past Tuesday a postal worker in Columbus, Ohio called two gay men “faggots” and then threatened to stop delivering their mail. Michael Coward when to check on his mail as the USPS worker was delivering it. The encounter was partly recorded on one of the victims’ cell phone.
It appears his waiting annoyed the worker, who would have preferred she finished placing the mail in the boxes.
This is part of the exchange:
“I started arguing with her and she called me a faggot,” he said.
The argument escalated from there.
“And then she just kept going on and on and on about me and my fiance being white faggots,” Coward said.
“Yeah, not just faggots,” his fiance Michael Vaughn said. “White faggots.”
Coward took out his phone to record the encounter. While the postal worker doesn’t use the word “faggot” in the clip, she confirms that she said it multiple times.
“You’ve called me a faggot at least 10 times,” he told her in the video.
She replied, “I called you what you are.”
Coward and Vaughn said that she then took their names off their mailbox and said that they wouldn’t get mail again.
“You’re telling us that you’re not going to deliver our mail because we’re… ‘White faggots,'” Vaughn said. “I don’t think that’s how that works.”
On Tuesday evening, the USPS said in a statement that they were taking the incident seriously.
“The allegations made against a Postal Service employee are very concerning,” the statement said. “These actions – if true – are not consistent with and don’t represent the values of the Postal Service organization and will not be tolerated. You can be assured that this alleged incident is being fully investigated and that the Postal Service will take whatever action is appropriate.”