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MIT Students Create Facebook Gaydar Software!

Updated on September 25, 2009


It was bound to happen, right? As we all “friended” everyone we knew (and for some, people they sort of or didn’t know at all) on our Facebook page there were bound to be some negatives to all the positives of discovering that person you used to sit next to in algebra in the ninth grade. I personally feel the negatives are the people who I was never really close to but knew from work or school who have now found me and want to send me enormously long missives (complete with photos) of their 2.5 children and their dog. I DON’T CARE!!! But some students at MIT decided to do some of what they do best, analyzing to see if they could discover if someone was gay, not by that profile pic of them wearing a t-shirt that said, “Pitcher” but by the company they kept. Or in this case, by the friends they have on their Facebook page. MIT students create Facebook gaydar software! – Don’t Get Me Started!

While I’ve all ready read on one blog about how to “un-gay” your Facebook page so as they put it, “your boss won’t know” (Something I just find really weird. If you have a boss that you’re putting as a “friend” on Facebook and they don’t know you’re gay, it’s not going to take software for them to figure out who gets you software hard). And while I do find it interesting that all these college kids find ways to take modern technology and do all their testing and software designing to earn grand degrees from such a prestigious school, I think I could have saved them all a lot of money, time and effort. For that matter, any of us gays of a certain age could have most likely saved them their efforts because whether you believe in gaydar or not, it often doesn’t take some “Spidey” sense to figure out who is gay and who isn’t, it just takes some powers of deduction. That’s right, we gays have be Gaylock Holmes for years.

Back in the day, there was no Facebook, in fact allow me to go even further back into the technological prehistoric times before there was even AOL or the Internet. Yes new gays, there was a time like this and gays were still able to do everything from find long lasting relationships to long lasting lube to be used with a short lasting acquaintance in the alley behind a 7/11. It may have started with the little than longer eye contact between two men but really if you wanted to know who was “A friend of Dorothy” back in the day, you had to use all your powers of deduction. You see back in the 1970’s (I was really too young during this time but let’s just say I had a heightened sense of gay awareness that would serve me well until I could get into the 80’s and became old enough to understand and act on my gayness.) in the 70’s it was more about the people you associated with I think. Which to no surprise is the premise of the new MIT report, it’s about the company you keep. Back in the 70’s the “gay ghetto” was born, areas of a town where gays lived, worked and worked it out. By the 1980’s we had renovated these areas and made them fabulous for gays and straights alike until we sold them to the straights in the 1990’s and made a crap load of money off of our good taste and ability to take something that was less than pleasing and make it appealing to the masses. But allow me to stop this somewhat history lesson and get back to finding out who is gay without the neighborhood, “Pitcher” shirt or assless chaps.

You see, you used your powers of deduction by first watching the gay. Was the possible gay well dressed, witty, and using references from old Hollywood movies or Broadway? If so, you were on your way. Sure it’s a stereotype but don’t forget that sometimes stereotypes are stereotypes because they’re true and back in the day this was the case. If you got past meeting someone in a non gay bar environment and were still unsure about their gayness then you had to do some more digging, shall we say. If you got into the car and the 8-track was Donna Summer you were getting closer to discovering gayness. If you eventually made it to the guy’s apartment and/or house then you could easily find out if he was gay. How you ask? By doing what we all do – excusing yourself to go to the restroom and then going over it like a CSI detective. If your host was occupied and you could get a peek into their nightstand then you should have everything you need to know if someone was gay or not.

The above is not to say that all gays back in the day were screaming queens. In fact, quite the opposite. I think that outside the areas of towns like the gay ghettos it was increasingly important for the physical health of the gays that they appear as straight as possible. But get to one of their houses and see Nagle or Erte’ prints on the wall or find poppers and or lube in the nightstand drawer and I don’t care how much they were talking about sports they were interested in your tight end and making you a wide receiver before the night was through.

So while I’m glad that technology has made it easier for all of us to connect to one another (and then set the privacy settings so that the same people we “friended” can no longer see anything about us) the one thing that I really don’t need Facebook to tell me is who is gay. It’s sort of like when Tivo came out and everyone was worried that their Tivo thought they were gay by the shows it chose for them based on their other recorded shows. There’s a lot for us gays to worry about, rights, marriage, disease, and the list goes on and on. As a man who has been out since the time he was five, lip syncing to Barbra Streisand in his living room to “Second Hand Rose” with a silk red rose from my mother’s floral arrangement in his teeth, I’m not too worried about technology outing me. Good for the MIT kids but kids, like with most things, all you really needed was a gay, not software to figure out who’s gay and who isn’t on Facebook. We could have saved you hours of research and energy. MIT students create Facebook gaydar software! – Don’t Get Me Started!

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      pgrundy 8 years ago

      I joined Facebook about a year ago because everyone said, "oh if you write online you have to do the social networking thing to get traffic." So I did that.

      Facebook is really really really annoying. It's a little better now because after months of ignoring everybody's pet plants and doggies or whatever (please accept my pretend gift and send another pretend gift to all your friends!) I no longer get these time-wasting imaginary offers.

      Some employers now are actually requiring your Facebook password as part of the hiring process so they can check up on you and see if you look at porn or friend communists or gays or whatever. There's some kind of class action lawsuit in the works over it. It's crap, it really is.