360° Coverage : APNewsBreak: New gender options for Facebook users

2 Updates

APNewsBreak: New gender options for Facebook users

Feb 13 2014, 12:42pm CST | by

MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — You don't have to be just male or female on Facebook anymore. The social media giant is adding a customizable option with about 50 different terms people can...

Filed under: news

 
 
 

30 weeks ago

APNewsBreak: New gender options for Facebook users

Feb 13 2014, 12:42pm CST | by

MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — You don't have to be just male or female on Facebook anymore. The social media giant is adding a customizable option with about 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender as well as three preferred pronoun choices: him, her or them.

Facebook said the changes, shared with The Associated Press before the launch on Thursday, initially cover the company's 159 million monthly users in the U.S. and are aimed at giving people more choices in how they describe themselves, such as androgynous, bi-gender, intersex, gender fluid or transsexual.

"There's going to be a lot of people for whom this is going to mean nothing, but for the few it does impact, it means the world," said Facebook software engineer Brielle Harrison, who worked on the project and is herself undergoing gender transformation, from male to female. On Thursday, while watchdogging the software for any problems, she said she was also changing her Facebook identity from Female to TransWoman.

"All too often transgender people like myself and other gender nonconforming people are given this binary option, do you want to be male or female? What is your gender? And it's kind of disheartening because none of those let us tell others who we really are," she said. "This really changes that, and for the first time I get to go to the site and specify to all the people I know what my gender is."

Facebook, which has 1.15 billion active monthly users around the world, also allows them to keep their gender identity private and will continue to do so.

The change to the gender selection option is seen as a major step toward acceptance for people who don't self-identify as male or female, but the high-profile development seemed senseless to those who believe in two genders, no more.

"Of course Facebook is entitled to manage its wildly popular site as it sees fit, but here is the bottom line: It's impossible to deny the biological reality that humanity is divided into two halves - male and female," said Jeff Johnston, an issues analyst for Focus on the Family, an influential national religious organization based in Denver. "Those petitioning for the change insist that there are an infinite number of genders, but just saying it doesn't make it so. That said, we have a great deal of compassion for those who reject their biological sex and believe they are the opposite sex."

Masen Davis, executive director of the San Francisco-based Transgender Law Center, said it may be hard for some people to understand the importance of having the ability to select from multiple genders online. But he said many transgender people will be thrilled with the change.

"We applaud Facebook for making it possible for people to be their authentic selves online," he said.

In the past decade, the transgender movement has become much more organized and outspoken, demanding the kind of civil rights and respect already sought by gay activists. During this time, the transgender umbrella has been growing well beyond transsexuals to encompass a wide variety of gender identities.

The move by Facebook came after years of lobbying from users, some who started Facebook pages to petition for the change. Google+ offers male, female and "other" as choices, but transgender advocates said Facebook's many specific options puts the platform well ahead of any other online community. About 1 percent of Google+ users identify as other.

The idea of expanding gender choices percolated at Facebook for about a year and started to come to fruition during an in-house brainstorming four months ago, project manager Lexi Ross said.

Transgender activist Nori Herras-Castaneda, a spokeswoman for the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center in San Jose, said her community has been waiting for this to happen for a long time.

"We always talk about how gender is a spectrum," she said. "I can see a lot of people being extremely happy about this."

At this point, Facebook targets advertising according to male or female genders. For those who change to something neutral, ads will be targeted based on the pronoun they select for themselves. Unlike getting engaged or married, changing gender is not registered as a "life event" on the site and won't post on timelines. Therefore, Facebook said advertisers cannot target ads to those who declare themselves transgender or recently changed their gender.

Users also can separately indicate whether they want to be referred to as he, she or they.

Facebook came up with its range of terms after consulting with leading gay and transgender activists, and the company plans to continue working with them. Facebook started the options in the U.S. and plans to take it global after working with activists abroad to come up with terms appropriate in other countries.

Herras-Castaneda said she did expect some anger.

"Any time the transgender community makes advances, there is backlash, and this is a very big advance, so yes, we'll face some problems, no doubt," she said.

At Facebook, staffers said the expanded options were never questioned, from CEO Mark Zuckerberg on down.

"Really, there was no debate within Facebook about the social implications at all," said Alex Schultz, director of growth. "It was simple: Not allowing people to express something so fundamental is not really cool so we did something. Hopefully a more open and connected world will, by extension, make this a more understanding and tolerant world."

---

Follow Martha Mendoza at https://twitter.com/mendozamartha

Source: AP Business

 
Update
2

2 weeks ago

Khazanah throws MAS RM6b lifeline

Aug 29 2014 5:01pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 30, 2014 1:15 AMKHAZANAH Nasional will inject RM6 billion (SS$2.4 billion) over three years to resuscitate loss-making Malaysia Airlines (MAS) under a recovery plan that includes even an Act of Parliament. Other key moves are migrating its operations, assets and liabilities to a new company (NewCo) an ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 
Update
1

2 weeks ago

MAS posts loss of RM307m for Q2

Aug 28 2014 5:00pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 29, 2014 1:13 AMMALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) registered a loss of RM307 million (S$122 million) for the second quarter to end-June, but warned of worse to come in the second half when the "full financial impact of the double tragedies of M ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/31" rel="author">Associated Press</a>
The Associated Press (AP) is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Kenya maintains flight ban to Ebola-hit West African nations
Nairobi, Sep 16 (IANS) The Kenyan government will not lift a travel ban to West African countries affected by an outbreak of Ebola virus disease until the risk reduces to a manageable level, officials said Tuesday.
 
 
President in Ho Chi Minh City; history, art on show
Ho Chi Minh City, Sep 16 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee Tuesday reached Vietnam's business capital on the second leg of his four-day visit, during which he will visit various historic sites, attend a cultural programme and meet the local Indian community and prominent Vietnamese politicians.
 
 
Sri Lanka records 7.8 percent growth in Q2
Colombo, Sep 16 (IANS) Sri Lanka's economy expanded by 7.8 percent in the second quarter of 2014 compared to 7.6 percent in the same period last year, latest data from the Department of Census and Statistics showed Tuesday.
 
 
'Global selfie' to send Earth's self-portrait into space
New York, Sep 16 (IANS) A "global selfie" project that aims to send a special message from earth to space via NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has been approved by the US space agency.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

US to bolster Ebola fight with more funds, troops
Washington, Sep 16 (IANS/EFE) US President Barrack Obama will announce Tuesday an extension of his government's plan against the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa by deploying 3,000 troops and allocating...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Kiwi jihadi wants to leave war-torn Syria
Wellington, Sep 16 (IANS) A jihadi from New Zealand, who has links with the Al Qaeda and has taken up arms in Syria, wants to leave the war-torn country - but first needs a fresh New Zealand passport after burning his...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
A glass of milk daily good for your heart
New York, Sep 16 (IANS) Do you find drinking milk disgusting? Listen to your heart and change the habit. New research has found that drinking milk and consuming other dairy products may reduce the risk of a heart...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Avatar sequels could feature cutting-edge 3D technology
The 'Avatar' sequels could use Douglas Trumbull's new system for 4K 3D at 120 frames per second. Trumbull has confirmed the news in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, in which he revealed that James Cameron - who...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Marvel releases synopsis of Avengers: Age of Ultron
Marvel Studios has released a full synopsis of 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'. The much-hyped film is set to feature the likes of Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo and Chris Hemsworth. The synopsis of the film...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Keira Knightley was neurotic
Keira Knightley was ''pretty neurotic'' until she was 25. The 29-year-old actress used to take herself ''far too seriously'' and obsessed over the criticism she received, particularly over her looks. She said: ''Have I...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Lawyer: Robin Thicke is being 'exploited'
Robin Thicke's lawyer believes the singer is being ''exploited''. The 37-year-old star is currently embroiled in a legal dispute with Marvin Gaye's children, who have accused him, Pharrell Williams and Clifford 'T.I.'...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Rain takes toll on Pakistan's historical sites
Islamabad, Sep 16 (IANS) Pakistan's monsoon rain, which started Sep 3 and has ravaged human populations since then, has taken a toll on ancient ruins as well, media reported Tuesday. Archaeologists say the ancient...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Number crunching may make people selfish
Toronto, Sep 16 (IANS) People with a "calculative mindset" as a result of number crunching are more likely to engage in selfish and unethical behaviour, suggests a study. Repeated engagement with number-focused...
Read more on Celebrity Balla