This awful new app for ‘girls’ uses dystopian tech to identify gender and people are baffled

Moya Lothian-McLean@moya_lm
Friday 07 February 2020 15:45

From counting your steps to monitoring your mental health, there’s an app for almost every facet of our lives.

One could almost say perhaps there are too many apps and that we have developed a dangerous dependency on technology to optimise our entire lives.

But then they haven’t been introduced to giggle (styled entirely in lowercase), a new app that promises to be a “girls only social network”, that uses “biometric gender verification” to “determine the female gender” of prospective subscribers.

Amazi–– no, wait, that sounds like a nightmare and terrible idea straight from a Blade Runner hellscape.

Giggle is apparently the brainchild of Australian entrepreneur Sall Grover, who founded the social networking app after a nightmarishly isolating experience in Hollywood while trying to become a screenwriter.

Grover says she didn’t have a network of friends to back her up and after returning to Australia, the idea of giggle was born from that.

Perfectly reasonable motivations for wanting to launch a digital woman-only space.

But when it comes to the execution…

For a start, giggle is apparently aimed at women. Its advertising says the platform can be used to connect “girls” for a range of purposes, from finding roommates to work opportunities.

Yet the branding is feminine infantilization at its peak, including referring to grown women constantly as "girls" and the tagline itself, which claims that “giggle” is a “the collective noun for a group of girls”.

Spoiler: it’s not

Haven’t we moved past associating anything focused on women with the colour pink?

And then there’s giggle’s USP: the “biometric gender verification”.

What a mess.

According to giggle’s FAQs, the system works by taking a 3D selfie of a person’s bone structure to determine if they’re female. The site claims:

It’s Bio-Science, not pseudo-science like phrenology.

Hmm, sure Jan.

This obviously excludes many people who identify as women, including those who may not be cis-women and those whose physical structure doesn’t fit with those determined to be “female” by giggle’s software.

And given that we know similar facial recognition technology has massive racial bias, it’s fair to say there’s a worry about how giggle’s systems will deal with non-white faces.

The app founders claim they are trans-inclusive – just that trans individuals will have to ring up customer service in order to gain access to the space. Eek.

This is not at all othering. Not. At. All.

Of course, the internet is having a field day with this perfect storm of dystopian tech (that may not even work), poorly thought through business model and feminism-lite.

Lots of mentions of immediate associations of phrenology for an app that doesn’t claim to be based on phrenology.

People pointed out it’s absolutely not how scientists work.

Others compared the app’s farcical premise to a sitcom.

And some analysed the conditions that could have given birth to such a Frankenstein.

Truly, there have been some bad ideas already in 2020, but this is the daddy of bad ideas.

It’s so bad, the only explanation is that it’s a convoluted prank.

Indeed, giggle’s Twitter page only has two tweets as of writing; one about trans-inclusivity and the other about… Kirk Douglas.

Seems legit.

We’re praying this one’s a hoax.

Indy100 has reached out to giggle for comment.

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