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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Facebook to Sponsor Suicide Hotline for LGBT People Driven to Suicide by Facebook

Posted By on Tue, Jun 9, 2015 at 11:02 AM

  • Jayson Photography

San Francisco – Facebook has gone out of its way to smooth over relations with the LGBTQ community by sponsoring this year’s Pride Parade, but it’s not stopping there. Once Pride is over, according to an announcement made today, the internet giant will take a bold new step: sponsoring a suicide hotline specifically for LGBTQ victims of Facebook.

“Here at Facebook we want to support people of all sexual orientations,” said company spokesman Nathanial Larsen. “That’s why we want to help them pick up the pieces Facebook so often leaves them in.”

Larsen added that Facebook is absolutely committed to doing whatever it takes to win the LGBTQ community’s trust, aside from not outing or labeling them.

“That’s what makes supporting Pride such a natural fit for us: everybody’s pictures will be posted, tagged, and searchable,” he said. “We’d organize Pride ourselves if we had to.”

According to reports, the suicide hotline number will be accessible to Facebook members who list their sexual orientation as “gay,” “lesbian,” “transgender,” “queer,” "two-spirit," “it’s complicated,” “I’m working through it,” or “your attempt to label me is an act of rape” on their Facebook profile. Once the information is publicly viewable, a suicide hotline number will appear in their top level control bar, in case all the public pressure gets to them.

The suicide hotline, to be run by Facebook’s customer service staff, is designed to keep desperate callers from killing themselves, injuring themselves, or deleting their account. Meanwhile, new algorithms will make it easier to be found by childhood bullies, because they probably want to apologize.

Additionally, Facebook will automatically make self-identified LGBT users “friends” with counselors and other mental health professionals in their local area.

“Obviously the more strangers who know their sexual orientation, the safer they’ll be,” Larsen said. “After all, it takes a village. Plus studies have shown that gay men tend to befriend one another after a single hookup. It's our primary growth vector in North America, actually.”

Facebook staff say they’re pleased the company is reaching out to the LGBTQ community.

“Connecting people is what we do,” said Facebook UI programmer Bradley Millard. “And that never goes badly. Just be aware that if you don't go by the name you were assigned at birth, we will expel you from the program.”

Facebook HR Director Nikki Monroe agreed. “When the gay community is looking for someone who understands and cares about their problems, it’s hard to imagine who would be more sensitive than a 20-something white male heteronormative college dropout famous for mild sexual creepiness, like Mark Zuckerberg” she said. “And he built this whole company, with the help of a couple of competitive rowers who frequently get mistaken for any two of Mitt Romney's five sons. So this level of understanding of gay issues is all to be expected, when you think about it.”

Reached for comment, Zuckerberg said that this activity goes hand-in-hand with Facebook’s larger mission.

“The whole metaphor of staying in the closet implies privacy, and we’re absolutely committed to taking that away from everyone, gay or straight,” Zuckerberg said. “Also dignity, and sometimes safety. I’ll let you know when I’ve crunched the numbers on that.” 

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Benjamin Wachs


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