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Published in: July-August 2018 issue.


Facebook’s Gaydar  The social media’s role in the Russian interference / collusion investigation was neatly clarified by the testimony of one Chris Wylie, a whistleblower who once worked for Cambridge Analytica. Wylie has testified before both the British Parliament and the U.S. Senate about the company’s use of Facebook data to target voters with pinpoint accuracy and then barrage them with just the right spin on the day’s fake news. Among the revelations was that Cambridge Analytica (and presumably Facebook) can determine if you’re gay—even if you’re not out in your profile—based on just a few likes and links and the help of an algorithm that relies on the dark art of psychographics. Now anyone who saw Wylie testifying knew the minute he opened his mouth—no, before that: the minute we saw his shocking pink hair and Elton-John-style glasses—that he’s someone Facebook would have flagged as a you-know-what. Not that we needed a complicated algorithm (or even gaydar) to figure it out. Anyway, gay or not, Wylie has become a key figure in revealing how the social network managed to convince so many people that up was down and out was bad leading up to the 2016 election.


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Just What You’d Expect It was only a matter of time: someone was bound to have the brilliant idea to create a straight mock-off of the gay flag. What one can’t help noticing immediately is that the parody is just plain ugly. But, of course, it had to be. If the image of the rainbow, the full spectrum of visible light, is a symbol of natural beauty, an archetype even, its opposite would have to be as drab and hideous as possible. And they’ve done it! Granted, the color range had to be narrow to avoid looking “gay,” but they’ve managed to do the entire thing in various shades of beige! So in one fell swoop they’ve yielded both the entire color spectrum and good taste.


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