‘Just for females’ social media app Giggle under fire for ‘excluding’ trans women

Giggle has been criticised for excluding trans women on its "female-only" app

Giggle, a social media app designed for “females”, has come under fire for excluding trans women with its use of artificial intelligence.

The app is marketed as a female-only space that allows women to find roommates, engage in freelance work, find friendship groups and more. 

The Verge reported that Giggle, which first launched in early 2020, uses facial recognition to determine if new users are male or female, however it has allegedly failed to properly recognise women of colour or transgender women

Jenny, a 23-year-old trans woman from California, told The Verge: “The way the app works is when you install it, you have to take a picture of yourself and it uses AI to analyse your face.

“And if it decides you’re a woman, it will let you in. If it decides you’re a man, it will reject you. But if it rejects you, you can just submit another picture.”

Jenny said she first tried to sign up for Giggle two years ago, however she claims she was removed from the app without warning when she tweeted about joining. A Twitter user tagged Giggle’s founder and CEO Sall Grover, claiming that Jenny was “transgressing women’s boundaries” by using the app.

Grover told PinkNews: “Giggle is a social networking app for females. Males are excluded from the user base. There is no other specific demographic that is excluded from the app other than males. 

“Like how Grindr is an app for gay men and therefore not for women, Giggle is an app for a specific demographic. In our case, females.

“Giggle is clearly stated as being for females. It would be lovely, however, if male people respected female spaces and left them alone.”

Taking to Twitter, Grover shared PinkNews‘ comment request pertaining to the exclusion of trans women, suggesting she considered trans women to be males, remarking: “In case anyone was wondering whether or not misogyny is alive and f**king well.”

When asked if trans women were encouraged to join Giggle, she replied: “No males are ‘encouraged’ to join Giggle.”

Grover also failed to acknowledge that Grindr is not just an app exclusively for gay men, but instead a space that’s welcoming of trans and non-binary people, as well as bisexual and questioning cis men.

PinkNews has contacted Grover for clarification.

Giggle has also been criticised for its use of AI to open an account; the app works with facial-recognition AI company Kairos, which was found to misgender women of colour in a 2019 report.

The way the app works is that a user sends off a selfie to Giggle. If the Kairos AI is 95 per cent certain the person is female, they are allowed to create an account. 

In the 2019 report on Kairos, however, Joe Buolamwini, a researcher at the MIT Media Lab, found that the technology misgendered darker-skinned women 22.5 per cent of the time.

Melissa Doval, then-CEO of Kairos, told the New York Times that it had since made changes to its algorithm to improve its accuracy.

Grover denied that the platform’s AI prevented women of colour from using it, saying “women of every race are not just welcome on Giggle, women of every race are on Giggle”.