A female-only social networking app called Giggle has come under fire for using facial-recognition technology that excludes transgender people from being able to log onto the platform.
Despite calls to disable the facial recognition tech and allow transgender individuals access to the “only for females” platform, which launched in early 2020, its CEO Sall Grover has doubled down in her refusal to open up the space.
Speaking to The Verge, transgender individuals complained that their requests to join the network have been denied by the system because their features are simply “not feminine enough.”
In response to the complaints, Grover, who is based in Queensland, said there is no space on the app for “men claiming to be women.”
“The fact is, women of colour are on Giggle. Giggle is used by women of every race, religion and culture. The quality that Giggle users have in common is they are female,” said Grover in an interview with the Daily Mail.
The AI that Giggle uses for facial recognition works by analyzing the bone structure of anyone trying to log onto the platform. Users with masculine features, such as men, are thereby prevented from creating an account on the network.
According to the Daily Mail, allegations of transphobia have circled Giggle since it was first launched.
Despite the furor over the app’s exclusivity over the past couple of years, a new article on Pink News reignited the controversy after an unnamed freelance journalist writing for the publication solicited Grover for comment.
The writer asked whether trans people are “encouraged to join the Giggle app,” and whether the issue of the AI used for facial recognition would be “fixed.”
In response, Grover replied, “Giggle is a social networking app for females. Males are excluded from the user base. There is no other specific demographic that is excluded from the app other than males.”
“No males are encouraged to join Giggle. Giggle is clearly stated as being for females. It would be lovely, however, if male people respected female spaces and left them alone,” she added.
As detailed by Daily Mail, an editor asked Grover for clarification and for her to “unequivocally” confirm whether trans people are accepted on Giggle, to which she replied, “Giggle is an app for females, to connect in a female environment.”
“I can find no evidence or any female trans women,” she said when asked if she believed trans women are women.
“I understand that Pink News will be writing an article in support of trans women with the belief that they are female, with the specific purpose to condemn Giggle, an app for females,” she said, adding that she hoped the article points out there are many apps that are designed for trans people, which she supports.
“All I ask is for is the same respect for female spaces,” she said.
Pink News published the article basically condemning Grover for transphobia, prompting her to state on Twitter that she created an app for women to connect and support each other in a male free environment.