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04/19/2007


Closeted Harvard Students Inadvertently Outed By Facebook

Apparently some Harvard students don't realize that everything you do on social networks should be considered public, because The Crimson just published a story about Facebook-using undergrads being inadvertently outed to their parents when friends and events post LGBT-related items on their walls.

FacebookAs The Crimson puts it, "Queer students, especially, have found that ‘the closet’ on the Internet does not provide a very good lock."

Understanding Facebook’s privacy settings can be challenging, particularly due to frequent policy changes. Because of incidents like these, students said that they have become more cautious when using social media sites.

What's more interesting though are the precautions that some Harvard LGBT groups take to help protect the privacy of their possibly-closeted members:

Most of the BGLTQ groups on campus have varying forms of privacy clauses in their constitutions that allow students to hide or censor their membership to preserve confidentiality.

“Some [queer groups] are especially focused on being safe spaces where people can kind of explore themselves and come to terms with themselves,” [Allison Gofman ’14, leader of the queer Jewish organization BAGELS] said. “It’s important that you feel free to have people to talk to without having that go out to the whole world.”

QSA, the largest queer student group on campus, goes to great lengths to ensure students’ privacy by instituting policies regarding posting photos or recording names of members who speak during meetings. They also allow club officers to go by aliases on their website.

The upside of The Crimson's tale is that the two students they interviewed ended up being happy that Facebook outed them, so there's that. But remember kids, everyone can see everything you do online forever. If you don't want your business to be known, don't go online.

What's more troubling is the rising trend of haters using social networks to locate and commit violence against LGBT people — scary stuff indeed.


USOC Would Support Changing Olympic Charter To Include Sexual Orientation

UsocLast week the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stated they were "fully satisfied" that Russia's anti-gay laws do not violate the Olympic Charter's anti-discrimination clauses: "IOC Chairman Jean-Claude Killy said [the IOC] lacked authority to criticize a host country’s laws if they did not specifically violate Olympic rules."

Under the header, "Fundamental Principles of Olympism," the current charter reads:"Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement."

Though many, including Sir Ian McKellen, have protested that Russia's anti-gay laws violate this sixth principle of Olympism, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has come out in favor of amending the Olympic Charter to specifically address discrimination based on sexual orientation should such a change be considered by the IOC.

USA Today reports:

"If it came to a vote of IOC (International Olympic Committee) members to eliminate any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation, I would absolutely vote yes to amend the charter," said USOC president Larry Probst, also an IOC member.

As a national governing body, the USOC doesn't have a vote, but CEO Scott Blackmun said the USOC would support a change to the charter.

BlackmunThe USOC previously condemned Russia's anti-gay laws while simultaneously urging its athletes to heed them, per the IOC's instruction. Responding to criticism that the USOC did not do enough to guide the dialogue on gay rights at Sochi, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said,

"In terms of influence, first and foremost we're a sports organization...We are not an advocacy or human rights organization but we are a part of a worldwide Olympic movement, and what we can do is advocate for change within our movement."

"We want to lead by example and advocate internally within the global Olympic community to make sure we, as a family, are doing everything we can to send the message that we don't tolerate discrimination."


French Anti-Gay Hashtag Prompts Lawsuit Against Twitter

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An anti-gay hashtag, roughly translated to "#GaysMust[Die/Disappear]Because", made its way to the top "trend" in France over the weekend. According to the entity behind the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, or IDAHO, almost 10,000 tweets were posted using the fiercely homophobic hashtag, approximately 900 of which called directly for gay people to be murdered.

Such strong, troublesome, and widespread language has prompted IDAHO to file complaints in both France and California, calling for a removal of those and future offensive tweets. The group has also announced that it plans to file a second suit, which will call for the release of the user information of offending accounts to French authorities and ensure the proper investigation of the country's new anti-hate speech law. Alexandre Marcel of IDAHO told France's The Local that:

"This is a completely blatant call for the death and murder of gay people. It is totally unacceptable...Could you imagine being a 17 or 18-year-old gay person logging on to Twitter ... and seeing messages that call for you to be killed?" 

Trolling trollsAccording to the English and French language editions of the Huffington Post, the above-named hashtag also gave way to many others like it shortly thereafter, including "#SiMonFilsEstGay (If My Son Is Gay), #TeamHomophobe and, most recently, #BrulonsLesGaysSurDu (Burn Gays On The)." Luckily, Twitter has already complied with requests similar to the ones filed by IDAHO, although the company has yet to comment on this most recent set of complaints. French LGBT rights advocates have also launched a counteroffensive campign on the microblogging site, flooding these and similar hashtags with as many pro-LGBT remarks as possible. 

Twitter, has a company, has repeatedly expressed a desire to encourage free speech with the fewest amount of interruptions possible. The company has adopted policies prohibiting "violent threats" as well as "targeted harassment", but not explicitly any form of hate speech. It is not yet clear if Twitter has complied with previous requests due to violation of their own policies, or due to some other sort of legal obligation. Thus far, Twitter has yet to take any similar action against the anti-gay hate speech being tweeted in the United States


Movies: The Social Network, August Osage County, What's Up Baz? and More

Thisisourtime
"It's our time" - Justin Timberlake speaks the truth.

GuestbloggerNATHANIEL ROGERS
...watches trailers through fingers (too many spoilers) and waits impatiently for the feature. He blogs daily at the Film Experience.


YOUR FEATURE PRESENTATION
"Dating you is like dating a stairmaster," Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) says, exasperated, in the opening sequence of THE SOCIAL NETWORK. Her personal stairmaster is Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and you're witness to a car wreck of a break-up in progress. It's emotionally gorey but there will be rubbernecking; you can't look away. If the hilarious stairmaster line doesn't hook you, something else in the screwball sharp rat-a-tat-tat of Aaron Sorkin's screenplay will. Not many movies open with five unbroken minutes of conversation but not many movies are as confidently verbal and as exhilarating made as this one. The instantly classic opening scene works like a gunshot and the movie is off.

Remarkably, The Social Network never loses the propulsive energy of these jolting first moments. David Fincher, long one of the movie's great visual stylists in films like Fight Club, Benjamin Button  and Se7en, turns expert dramatist here, staging the rest of the movie's events like a series of inevitable chain reactions, pop-pop-pop. 

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