Queer/Trans Tech Collective Seeks Community Funding to Build A New Social Network

by The Editor on November 5th, 2014

One thing is clear about social media: Mainstream social networks have consistently failed to support diverse and marginalized users. Online harassment and abuse is rampant while platforms flatly refuse to implement effective reporting or filtering systems. Oppressive “real name” requirements, whorephobic policies, and “features” that compromise user consent, privacy and security are just a few of the common patterns on Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus. Meanwhile, up-and-coming social networks like Ello show no sign of improvement on the dominant design — VC-funded, led by privileged technologists, and out of touch with the needs of diverse communities.

Quirell logo.

Enter CollectQT, a queer/trans run technology collective building a new social network: Quirell. They’ve just launched a crowdfunding campaign to support their growing team and infrastructure. According to CollectQT, “Quirell differs from traditional social networks in that it aims to be a place for marginalized community members and others to escape the noise and over-saturation of traditional social networks… A social network for marginalized communities with its level of customization is unheard of, and we aim to deliver a platform that serves the needs of marginalized micro-communities searching for a place to call their own when mainstream social networks are overrun with hate campaigns, stress, or you simply want to connect with others like you.”

Existing plans for the site include robust privacy, muting and blocking features, a code of conduct, user customization features, and fine-tuned control over conversation visibility.

CollectQT has already raised over 10% of their initial goal of $10,000, which will ensure the project is minimally funded for 6 months. They hope to raise a total of $100,000, which would fund the project for a year and allow them to hire a web and mobile developer.

The project is led by Lynn Cyrin, who has previously written for Model View Culture. CollectQT writer and community leader Catherine [Kiran/Rin] Oliver recently wrote of the collective in “We Don’t Work for Free: Centering Marginalized Community Members in Decision Making”: “CollectQT offers me a space where I can be myself without fear of getting fired, or dealing with insensitive comments regarding my sexual orientation from cisgender white male coworkers. As someone that is a member of many communities, namely the transgender, queer, disabled, and autistic communities — being able to be open about who I am, my limitations, and the skills that I bring to the table are crucial to my health and well-being.”

Quirell is unique in being a community-supported social network by and for marginalized people, with social justice principles built into the foundation of its team and infrastructure. As such, it is a critical and needed initiative. You can support Quirell’s IndieGoGo campaign here. Perks for contributions include poetry, stickers, mugs, t-shirts and early access to the platform when available.