Spinster.xyz

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Spinster.xyz (often referred to as just Spinster) is a social network founded on August 15, 2019 by M. K. Fain and her partner, Alex Gleason. According to them and the website's users, Spinster is a "feminist" and "women-first" social network created in response to social media websites such as Twitter banning people for "saying feminist things".[1][2] In reality, it's an wannabe Twitter alternative that was founded as a refuge for TERFs who were banned from Twitter and other social media websites for harassing trans people or otherwise promoting transphobia. Unsurprisingly, the majority of content on the website is therefore dedicated to promoting transphobia.

Overview[edit]

Essentially, Spinster is the TERF version of Gab; indeed, Spinster federates with Gab (meaning both of their users can interact as though they were on the same forum).[1][3] Spinster has an official Twitter account, where it frequently criticizes Twitter for its censorship of TERFs. Though with Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter, they probably have less in that regard to worry about these days.[4][5]

The userbase is around 21,000 registered accounts (most of which — about 90 percent — have been inactive for at least six months).[6] On August 23, 2019 (just 8 days after being released!) Spinster was removed from Google Play for violating its user-generated content policy. In December 2019, the free software repository F-Droid removed Spinster from its available apps.

The name "Spinster" was chosen to reclaim a term that refers to a woman who is unmarried past an age that is socially considered to be the age of marrying.[7] The term spinsterWikipedia emerged in this sense in the 1600s, as spinning wool was historically the primary occupation of such women.[8] The domain ".xyz" was chosen as a subtle reference to the X and Y chromosomes.[7] A user poll in Spinster's earliest days resulted in the spiderweb emoji (a reference to the act of "spinning") being chosen as a dog whistle to signal Spinster membership on other social-media platforms.[9]

Developers[edit]

Alex Gleason[edit]

Spinster runs on Soapbox, a fork of the software Pleroma.[10][note 1] The fork was originally made after Gleason was banned from contributing to Pleroma due to getting angry when other maintainers reverted controversial technical decisions that he forced through whilst he was maintainer.[12][13] Before he was kicked off the project, at least one core developer of Pleroma broke with the rest of the development team after Gleason began contributing towards the source.[14]

Gleason announced on his own site, Gleasonator, that he had accepted a contract position for Gab in 2021.[15] This means that one of Spinster's main developers is also a programmer for Gab.

Gab's CEO uses official Gab accounts to promote antisemitism.[16][17] Gab is so thoroughly infested with neo-Nazis that it was voraciously used by Robert Bowers, who shot up a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 (but not before announcing his intention on Gab).[18][19] This was all easily accessible public information by the time Gleason had begun working for Gab. If you're wondering whether any of that might have damaged his respect for them (being a "radical feminist" and all), it didn't. He stated: "I'm a strong believer in free speech, and I share Gab's vision of building an ethical open-source social network."[15]

M. K. Fain[edit]

M. K. (Mary Kate) Fain, a volunteer for Women's Declaration InternationalWikipedia or WDI (previously Women's Human Rights Campaign or WHRC), has also been involved with establishing a number of other TERF webshites. She helped create Ovarit in its early days, and is the editor-in-chief for 4W.pub (or simply "4W"), a TERF blog she created after receiving a ban from Medium.[7][20][21] She co-founded Spinster with Gleason after she was fired from her programming job for writing an article for 4W titled "Non-Binary Is the New 'Not Like Other Girls'".[22]

Content[edit]

Other than the developers, there are large accounts such as Glinner and Posie Parker (the latter of which set a Barbie in a Nazi uniform as her avatar there).[23][24][22] Then there are the commoners, the sort of transphobes who are extreme enough to openly lament that transgender women aren't beaten to death more often for taking a whiz in the women's bathroom.[22][25] Channeling the power of Janice Raymond, one user writes: "Don't ever trust a TIM, for any reason. There is no 'good' TIM." The user goes on to accuse Ovarit (which has a user base that has dabbled in praise for Lily Cade's call to "lynch" trans women) of being too trans-friendly.[22] Of course, Spinster has a rule against hate speech, so these kinds of posts can be removed for transphobia, right? Who are we kidding. An admin for the site, Nina PaleyWikipedia (who is previously best known for Sita Sings the Blues which angered people in India for its use of cultural appropriation[26]) explicitly refers to transgender people as "trannies".[22][27]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Some of the code for Soapbox was originally contributed by Gab,[1] which is probably what led the Washington Post to inaccurately claim that Spinster was itself a "Gab server".[11]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "About" (archived). Spinster. (Alternate archive).
  2. Homepage (archived). Spinster
  3. Alex Gleason (August 19, 2019). @Alex on Spinster (archived). Quote: "Spinster is not a safe space or an echo chamber. It's a platform for feminist dialogue. We federate with gab.com. Gab users are often right-wing or conservative. We allow them to write comments on our posts, to follow our users, and vice-versa. If you don't want this, you can personally apply a domain-level silence on your account to all Gab users […] We don't remove posts from Gab users if they don't break our rules."
  4. Evan Urquhart (November 1, 2022). "One of the Biggest Red Flags of Elon Musk's Twitter Takeover". Slate.
  5. Barbara Ortutay (April 18, 2023). "Twitter removes policy against deadnaming transgender people". The Associated Press.
  6. https://fediverse.observer/list
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Team XYZ (September 24, 2019). "Spinster.xyz:安全讨论女权的新社交平台" ("Spinster.xyz: A new social platform for safely discussing feminism"). In Chinese.
  8. "spinster", Online Etymology Dictionary
  9. M. K. Fain, "Spinster is in its infancy, but is already making waves in the Fediverse", Feminist Current, 12 September 2019
  10. David Rutland (March 22, 2022). "The Fediverse: Decentralized Social Media for Human Beings". Private Internet Access.
  11. Samantha Schmidt (February 7, 2020). "Conservatives find unlikely ally in fighting transgender rights: radical feminists". The Washington Post. (Archived)
  12. Update on Pleroma maintainance, Haelwenn Monnier
  13. Pleroma is deadArchive link, Alex Gleason
  14. Ariadne Conill, Twitter: "there were certainly a lot of people stabbing each other in the back on fedi. that's one of the reasons i eventually gave up. oh, and pleroma started working with a TERF. that was not really compatible with my continued involvement"
  15. 15.0 15.1 Alex Gleason on Gleasonator (archived). Quote: "Excited to announce I've accepted a contracting role with Gab! I'll be implementing the HYDRA ActivityPub backend in Node.js. I'm a strong believer in free speech, and I share Gab's vision of building an ethical open-source social network. It feels great to finally get paid for this work! Big thanks to the Gab team for the opportunity, and I'm looking forward to building. 😃" (Alternate archive).
  16. Pagliery, Jose; Toropin, Konstantin (October 30, 2018). "Social network Gab, a home for anti-Semitic speech, produced some of its own". CNN. 
  17. Thalen, Mikael (October 20, 2021). "Gab's CEO deactivates Twitter account after wildly antisemitic screed". The Daily Dot. 
  18. Brian Stelter and Paul P. Murphy (October 27, 2018). "What's Gab, the social platform used by the Pittsburgh shooting suspect?". CNN Business.
  19. (June 1, 2022). "New report analyzes dynamics on alt-platform Gab". Stanford Internet Observatory. Quote: "Extreme anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic content is rife, with open praise of Nazism, encouragement of violence against minorities, and 'Great Replacement' narratives. Many of the memes cited by the Buffalo shooter's manifesto are indistinguishable from content on Gab, and such content appears even in 'mainstream' user groups. Gab contains much of the same toxic content as 'purpose-built' neo-Nazi sites such as Stormfront, but companies such as Cloudflare and Epik — who refused service to Stormfront — continue to provide Gab with services."
  20. Kaitlyn Tiffany (December 8, 2020). "The Secret Internet of TERFs". The Atlantic. (Archived).
  21. Charlotte Dalwood (January 6, 2022). "The alt-internet of anti-trans activists". rabble.ca.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 22.4 Catherine Bouris (April 13, 2022). "Babes In TERFland". Medium.
  23. (September 2020) Posie Parker on Spinster (archived)
  24. Xander Elliards (February 4, 2023). "Who is Posie Parker? The anti-trans founder of Standing for Women". The National.
  25. Christa Peterson (August 23, 2019). "Here is a Spinster user posting Kathleen Stock's Philosophy Bites interview on whether trans women are women, sharing a post by Louise Moody, and also lamenting that in America they can't beat trans women for using the bathroom." Twitter. (Evident confirmation by @GC_Portland).
  26. " Deconstructing Sita's Blues: Questions of Mis/representation, Cultural Property, and Feminist Critique in Nina Paley's Ramayana" by Sharmila Lodhia (2015) Feminist Studies 41(2);371-408. doi:10.1353/fem.2015.0032.
  27. Nina Paley's page on Spinster (archived)