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Is technology becoming too dangerous?

More to the point, have all the constant advancements in technology now made it too dangerous?

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Who doesn’t like getting their hands on some cool new tech? We all love it when a new and advanced smartphone comes out, or a cool app that lets you do things you’ve never been able to do before – even stuff like drones are super fun and exciting.

Technology has advanced to the point where regular people can easily hack into your computer or phone and steal loads of personal information.
IMAGE FROM PEXELS.COM

The technology whirlwind has taken the world by storm, and we’re seeing more and more developments each day. It’s come to the point where almost every aspect of your life is helped in some way by technology. Typically, we see this as a good thing, but, what if we threw a spanner in the works and looked at it as a negative? More to the point, have all the constant advancements in technology now made it too dangerous?

There are three main arguments afoot here; the dangers of trusting technology, the growing cyber threats, and this idea of artificial intelligence knowing a bit too much.

Humans are putting too much trust in technology

This first argument is all about lazy humans relying on technology to do things for them. The best example of this is in a car. Nowadays, people are trusting their cars to park for them, stop for them, or even full-on drive for them. Needless to say, this is potentially dangerous, and we already see car accidents as a result of technology. As the Dolman Law Group states, car accidents are one of the leading causes of serious injuries, and there are thousands of them every year. We’ve seen people in Tesla cars end up in fatal crashes because they were using autopilot and not focusing on the road. Even a more small-scale problem is people bumping into other cars when parking because they were too dependent on the parking sensors. Are we putting too much trust in technology, and is this dangerous? There is indeed an argument to say that this is the case.

The increased risk of cyber threats

Technology has advanced to the point where regular people can easily hack into your computer or phone and steal loads of personal information. You could be chatting to someone on Grindr, and they could easily be trying to get a little bit of personal info to gain access to all your sensitive online information. Many people have had money stolen thanks to cybercriminals, and the superfast technological advancements are making the online world a more dangerous place by the second.

Artificial Intelligence keeps on learning

Lastly, there’s the worry of AI learning too much information and getting to the point where it develops its own sentience and is no longer under human control. This isn’t something we need to worry about right now, but it’s a possibility many people – including Elon Musk – worry is on the horizon. Will technology get to the point where it can literally take over the world? Who knows…

So, is technology becoming too dangerous? There are definitely arguments here that will make you rethink how you look at technology. The biggest way to prevent tech from being a serious problem is to make sure it’s continuously being monitored, and we don’t depend on it too much.

LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

It’s 2020, time to teach teens ‘safe’ sexting

This is not about encouraging sexting behaviors, any more than sex education is about encouraging teens to have sex. It simply recognizes the reality that young people are sexually curious, and some will experiment with various behaviors with or without informed guidance, and sexting is no exception.

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Photo by Cristofer Jeschke from Unsplash.com

Preaching sexual abstinence to youth was popular for a number of decades, but research repeatedly found that such educational messages fell short in their intended goals. Simply telling youth not to have sex failed to delay the initiation of sex, prevent pregnancies, or stop the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases. Since the advent of photo- and video-sharing via phones, children have received similar fear-based messages to discourage sexting – the sending or receiving of sexually explicit or sexually suggestive images (photos or video) usually via mobile devices. Unfortunately, messages of sexting abstinence don’t seem to be reducing the prevalence of adolescents sharing nudes.

Consequently, in a new paper published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers from Florida Atlantic University and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, say that it is time to teach youth “safe” sexting.

“The truth is that adolescents have always experimented with their sexuality, and some are now doing so via sexting,” said Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., co-author and a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice within FAU’s College for Design and Social Inquiry, and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. “We need to move beyond abstinence-only, fear-based sexting education or, worse yet, no education at all. Instead, we should give students the knowledge they need to make informed decisions when being intimate with others, something even they acknowledge is needed.”

Hinduja and co-author Justin Patchin, Ph.D., a professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, acknowledge that although participating in sexting is never 100 percent “safe” (just like engaging in sex), empowering youth with strategies to reduce possible resultant harm seems prudent.

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Hinduja and Patchin collected (unpublished) data in April 2019 from a national sample of nearly 5,000 youth between the ages of 12 and 17, and found that 14 percent had sent and 23 percent had received sexually explicit images. These figures represent an increase of 13 percent for sending and 22 percent for receiving from what they previously found in 2016.

The authors do want youth to understand that those who sext open themselves up to possible significant and long-term consequences, such as humiliation, extortion, victimization, school sanction, reputational damage, and even criminal charges. But they also want youth who are going to do it anyway to exercise wisdom and discretion to prevent avoidable fallout.

“This is not about encouraging sexting behaviors, any more than sex education is about encouraging teens to have sex,” said Hinduja. “It simply recognizes the reality that young people are sexually curious, and some will experiment with various behaviors with or without informed guidance, and sexting is no exception.”

Simply telling youth not to have sex failed to delay the initiation of sex, prevent pregnancies, or stop the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases.
Photo by Jack Sharp from Unsplash.com

Hinduja and Patchin provide suggested themes encapsulated in 10 specific, actionable messages that adults can share with adolescents in certain formal or informal contexts after weighing their developmental and sexual maturity.

  1. If someone sends you a sext, do not send it to — or show — anyone else. This could be considered nonconsensual sharing of pornography, and there are laws prohibiting it and which outline serious penalties (especially if the image portrays a minor).
  2. If you send someone a sext, make sure you know and fully trust them. “Catfishing”– where someone sets up a fictitious profile or pretends to be someone else to lure you into a fraudulent romantic relationship (and, often, to send sexts) — happens more often than you think. You can, of course, never really know if they will share it with others or post it online, but do not send photos or video to people you do not know well.
  3. Do not send images to someone who you are not certain would like to see it (make sure you receive textual consent that they are interested). Sending unsolicited explicit images to others could also lead to criminal charges.
  4. Consider boudoir pictures. Boudoir is a genre of photography that involves suggestion rather than explicitness. Instead of nudes, send photos that strategically cover the most private of private parts. They can still be intimate and flirty but lack the obvious nudity that could get you in trouble.
  5. Never include your face. Of course, this is so that images are not immediately identifiable as yours but also because certain social media sites have sophisticated facial recognition algorithms that automatically tag you in any pictures you would want to stay private.
  6. Make sure the images do not include tattoos, birthmarks, scars, or other features that could connect them to you. In addition, remove all jewelry before sharing. Also, consider your surroundings. Bedroom pictures could, for example, include wall art or furniture that others recognize.
  7. Turn your device’s location services off for all of your social media apps, make sure your photos are not automatically tagged with your location or username, and delete any meta-data digitally attached to the image.
  8. If you are being pressured or threatened to send nude photos, collect evidence when possible. Having digital evidence (such as screenshots of text messages) of any maliciousness or threats of sextortion will help law enforcement in their investigation and prosecution (if necessary) and social media sites in their flagging and deletion of accounts.
  9. Use apps that provide the capability for sent images to be automatically and securely deleted after a certain amount of time. You can never guarantee that a screenshot was not taken, nor that another device was not used to capture the image without you being notified, but using specialized apps can decrease the chance of distribution.
  10. Be sure to promptly delete any explicit photos or videos from your device. This applies to images you take of yourself and images received from someone else. Having images stored on your device increases the likelihood that someone — a parent, the police, a hacker — will find them. Possessing nude images of minors may have criminal implications. In 2015, for example, a North Carolina teen was charged with possessing child pornography, although the image on his phone was of himself.
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Technology

Tinder is a waste of time for most people

Female Tinder users are, on average, more interested in finding long-term relationships than men are. This also applies to encounters without using dating apps.

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“For people who don’t pull off one-night stands without using Tinder, Tinder doesn’t offer much in the way of new opportunities,” says postdoc Trond Viggo Grøntvedt, from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) Department of Psychology.

He is the first author of a new article – titled “Hook, Line and Sinker: Do Tinder Matches and Meet Ups Lead to One-Night Stands?” – that appeared in Evolutionary Psychological Science to deal with the use of Tinder. If you’re failing outside Tinder, then you don’t have much to gain from using Tinder, either.

Other authors include: Mons Bendixen, Ernst O. Botnen and Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair

“For people who actually have sexual relations outside Tinder, Tinder use only provides a limited increase in the number of one-night stands,” Grøntvedt says.

“Most of the people who succeed on Tinder have casual sex and hook-ups otherwise, too,” says Kennair at the Department of Psychology at NTNU.

The researchers have previously found that Tinder use did not lead to an increase in one-night stands.

“We have found little reason to claim that dating apps lead to more short-term sexual relationships than before,” says Bendixen, also in NTNU’s Department of Psychology.

There is thus no reason for any moral outrage from anyone.

Swiping

Tinder is one of several match-making apps. It uses location services to find other users nearby and then tries to match users with each other.

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Selecting someone is simple and effective: candidates pop up with a picture and some information on the screen. Swiping to the left means you’re not interested in a meet-up. Swiping to the right means you would like to meet the person. If two people swipe right on each other, the app can help them meet.

But sweeping and searching on Tinder has very limited effectiveness for the vast majority of users, who will probably succeed just as well by meeting live people instead.

Lots of hits needed

A lot of hits are needed on Tinder before any lead to a meeting. And even more hits are required before any kind of relationship can happen, whether we’re talking about a one-night stand or a meeting a partner with the aim of having a long-term committed relationship.

Men and women tend to use Tinder and other dating apps differently. Most women take more time to evaluate potential matches and are more often looking for a relationship, whereas most men are quicker in their assessments and swipe to the right far more often in the hope that a high enough number will result in at least one hit.

About 20 per cent of users had one-night stands after using Tinder. The vast majority of them had only experienced this once. Thus, eight of ten users never have sex after using the app.

“Tinder may offer new sexual opportunities, but these appear to be very limited,” says Kennair.

Only a tiny group of seven people, between two and three per cent of the study participants, had one-night stands exclusively after meeting someone through Tinder. The rest achieved this by traditional dating methods as well.

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Participants were asked to evaluate how physically attractive they found themselves to be. How physically attractive users are can predict the extent to which they succeed in having short-term sex when using Tinder.

“But this also applies when you’re not using dating apps. Some people get a lot, and a lot get none,” says Kennair.

“Both age and attitudes towards casual sex affect how often you actually achieve a one-night stand after using Tinder. But these are the same factors that play in elsewhere as well,” Grøntvedt says.

If you are more comfortable with casual sex, you’ll also have it more often.

“But there’s also a connection between a high interest in short-term sex encounters and less chance of meeting someone interested in a long-term relationship through the use of the dating app,” says Bendixen.

Female Tinder users are, on average, more interested in finding long-term relationships than men are. This also applies to encounters without using dating apps.

But according to this and previous studies, Tinder is not a very effective way to meet a long-term partner, either.

Ernst Olav Botnen had the idea for this study. He is currently a clinical psychologist at Lovisenberg Diakonale Hospital in Oslo.

“It’s interesting to see how the behaviour we see in other arenas, like bars and nightclubs, is reflected in dating apps,” says Botnen.

Of the 269 study participants who were active or former Tinder users, 62 per cent were women.

“Since the participants in our selection are university students in their early 20s, it will be interesting to see if our findings apply to other groups and age ranges in future research,” Botnen says.

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Technology

Online hate speech could be contained like a computer virus, say Cambridge researchers

The spread of hate speech via social media could be tackled using the same “quarantine” approach deployed to combat malicious software, according to University of Cambridge researchers.

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Photo by Andras Vas from Unsplash.com

The spread of hate speech via social media could be tackled using the same “quarantine” approach deployed to combat malicious software, according to University of Cambridge researchers.

Definitions of hate speech vary depending on nation, law and platform, and just blocking keywords is ineffectual: graphic descriptions of violence need not contain obvious ethnic slurs to constitute racist death threats, for example.

As such, hate speech is difficult to detect automatically. It has to be reported by those exposed to it, after the intended “psychological harm” is inflicted, with armies of moderators required to judge every case.

This is the new front line of an ancient debate: freedom of speech versus poisonous language.

Now, an engineer and a linguist have published a proposal in the journal Ethics and Information Technology that harnesses cyber security techniques to give control to those targeted, without resorting to censorship.

Cambridge language and machine learning experts are using databases of threats and violent insults to build algorithms that can provide a score for the likelihood of an online message containing forms of hate speech.

As these algorithms get refined, potential hate speech could be identified and “quarantined”. Users would receive a warning alert with a “Hate O’Meter” – the hate speech severity score – the sender’s name, and an option to view the content or delete unseen.

This approach is akin to spam and malware filters, and researchers from the ‘Giving Voice to Digital Democracies’ project believe it could dramatically reduce the amount of hate speech people are forced to experience. They are aiming to have a prototype ready in early 2020.

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“Hate speech is a form of intentional online harm, like malware, and can therefore be handled by means of quarantining,” said co-author and linguist Dr Stefanie Ullman. “In fact, a lot of hate speech is actually generated by software such as Twitter bots.”

“Companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google generally respond reactively to hate speech,” said co-author and engineer Dr Marcus Tomalin. “This may be okay for those who don’t encounter it often. For others it’s too little, too late.”

“Many women and people from minority groups in the public eye receive anonymous hate speech for daring to have an online presence. We are seeing this deter people from entering or continuing in public life, often those from groups in need of greater representation,” he said.

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently told a UK audience that hate speech posed a “threat to democracies”, in the wake of many women MPs citing online abuse as part of the reason they will no longer stand for election.

While in a Georgetown University address, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke of “broad disagreements over what qualifies as hate” and argued: “we should err on the side of greater expression”.

The researchers say their proposal is not a magic bullet, but it does sit between the “extreme libertarian and authoritarian approaches” of either entirely permitting or prohibiting certain language online.

Importantly, the user becomes the arbiter. “Many people don’t like the idea of an unelected corporation or micromanaging government deciding what we can and can’t say to each other,” said Tomalin. “Our system will flag when you should be careful, but it’s always your call. It doesn’t stop people posting or viewing what they like, but it gives much needed control to those being inundated with hate.”

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In the paper, the researchers refer to detection algorithms achieving 60% accuracy – not much better than chance. Tomalin’s machine learning lab has now got this up to 80%, and he anticipates continued improvement of the mathematical modeling.

Meanwhile, Ullman gathers more “training data”: verified hate speech from which the algorithms can learn. This helps refine the “confidence scores” that determine a quarantine and subsequent Hate O’Meter read-out, which could be set like a sensitivity dial depending on user preference.

A basic example might involve a word like ‘bitch’: a misogynistic slur, but also a legitimate term in contexts such as dog breeding. It’s the algorithmic analysis of where such a word sits syntactically – the types of surrounding words and semantic relations between them – that informs the hate speech score.

“Identifying individual keywords isn’t enough, we are looking at entire sentence structures and far beyond. Sociolinguistic information in user profiles and posting histories can all help improve the classification process,” said Ullman.

Added Tomalin: “Through automated quarantines that provide guidance on the strength of hateful content, we can empower those at the receiving end of the hate speech poisoning our online discourses.”

However, the researchers, who work in Cambridge’s Centre for Research into Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH), say that – as with computer viruses – there will always be an arms race between hate speech and systems for limiting it.

The project has also begun to look at “counter-speech”: the ways people respond to hate speech. The researchers intend to feed into debates around how virtual assistants such as ‘Siri’ should respond to threats and intimidation.

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Technology

4 Best apps and tools that have made our lives easier

If you are here to learn about the best apps and tools that can actually make your daily tasks more manageable, then you have come to the right place.

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We are always looking for tools and software that will make our daily grind a bit easier. Fortunately, every day, different tools and apps are launched in the market to facilitate our daily tasks. However, with an overwhelming number of applications available out there, sometimes it can become tough to choose a few that are really helpful for you.

But don’t worry, we have got you covered. If you are here to learn about the best apps and tools that can actually make your daily tasks more manageable, then you have come to the right place. Below in this article, we’ve mentioned our tops picks that you need to know about too. So, to learn about these amazing tools and apps, be sure to read this article till the end! 

Grammarly

Whether you are a student, entrepreneur, or a professional writer, you want to make sure that your writing is easy to read and error-free, right? Let’s be real, despite being English our native language sometimes we make silly grammatical and spelling mistakes. An online grammar checker and free Chrome plug-in help you fix punctuation, critical grammar, and spelling errors. With Grammarly’s premium version, you can even check for plagiarism, wordiness, and much more. The premium version costs between $11.66 and $29.95 per month, depending on how you pay. 

Soda PDF

Soda PDF is software that offers users both an online and desktop PDF solution with a range of useful PDF tools. When it comes to the online version of the soda pdf, it enables you to use features on any web browser and device. The desktop version, on the other hand, let you work on your files online by allowing you to download the application. Whether you’re a student or running a business, this application will enable you to convert, create, edit, split, merge, secure, review, and sign your PDFs on any of your devices. 

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Boomerang for Gmail

This email tool was much needed and is very convenient for all who have their Gmail accounts. Before this Gmail update, we always wished to have a tool that allows us to schedule our mails. Well, it seems likes our wish came true. Boomerang for Gmail will enable you to schedule your emails for a future time and date. Plus, it also keeps your inbox more manageable by scheduling an email to disappear and come back later at a scheduled time and date. Amazing! Right? Now you do not have to worry about your email replies anymore because boomerang for Gmail has got you covered. 

Glympse

This fantastic free GPS locator application is helping friends and family all over the world check in with each other. This application goes far beyond static “check-ins” or a simple map showing your location. It allows both Android and iPhone users to update their status quickly so they can let their online friends know about their real-time movements on this dynamic map, but for a set period. Now your spouse can know what time you are expected to get back home from your work. Moreover, you can also request the location of your teenager kid without invading their privacy. 

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Technology

Gay social network Blued highlights U=U in #WAD2019 campaign

Blued has set out to combat stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV by highlighting the advocacy’s most revolutionary message to date: U=U.

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For this year’s World AIDS Day, the world’s leading gay social app Blued has set out to combat stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV by highlighting the advocacy’s most revolutionary message to date: U=U (Undetectable equals Untransmittable).

Presented in 2018 during the 22nd International AIDS Conference, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the PARTNER (Partners of People on ART: a New Evaluation of the Risks) 2 study, which tracked 783 gay male couples for 8 years, discovered that “no HIV-positive partner with an undetectable viral load infected his HIV-negative sex mate through 77,000 episodes of anal sex without condoms”.  

The report further discusses:

“The analysis involved 783 gay couples at 55 clinics in 14 European countries; 89% of initially HIV-negative men were white. When they entered the study, HIV-negative men had a median age of 38 years and had practiced condomless sex for a median of 1 year. During 1.6 years of follow-up, these men had a median of 43 condomless sex acts per year and an estimated total 76,940 sexual encounters without condoms. Initially HIV-positive men had a median baseline age of 40 years, had taken ART for a median of 4 years, and 98% reported at least 90% antiretroviral adherence. Only 2% of HIV-positive men said they missed ART for more than four consecutive days.”

This message continues to be relevant in the Philippines, with new infections exploding by 208% from 2010 to 2018, versus the global decline by 18%. The most vulnerable demographic are men who have sex with men, aged between 15-34. 

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With a lack of access to HIV resources and testing facilities, coupled with miseducation and stigma, the numbers to continue to rise among this segment of the population.

Blued is the world’s largest gay social network with more than 40 million users around the globe and over one million users in the Philippines. Blued positions itself as a social media mobile application that allows the LGBTQI community to discover and share geo-localized content (friends, events, news, talent shows, et cetera). Blued eyes to improve the quality of life of the community around the world through its strength in mobile technologies. 

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NEWSMAKERS

Race-based discrimination, stereotypes still ubiquitous in online communities and mobile apps

The degree to which racial and ethnic minorities perceive race-based partner selection as racist often gets overshadowed by “personal preference” narratives.

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Race-based discrimination and stereotypes are ubiquitous in the online communities and mobile apps that gay and bisexual men use to search for sexual and romantic partners, research indicates.

But because racialized sexual discrimination – also called sexual racism – is a relatively new area of study, researchers currently don’t have a tool for measuring its impact on the well-being of men of color who use these websites, according to University of Illinois social work professor Ryan Wade.

Wade and Gary W. Harper, a professor of health behavior and health education at the University of Michigan, have developed a scale to help researchers better understand how the psychological well-being of ethnic minorities is affected by RSD experiences.

Wade presented their latest research on the topic at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Philadelphia on Nov. 6. He and Harper are the co-authors of a new study, a comprehensive review of prior research on RSD that was published recently in the American Journal of Community Psychology.

Wade and Harper found that RSD emerges in a variety of forms and contexts in these online communities and, less often, when men meet potential partners in person. These include prominent statements in users’ online profiles that express inclusionary or exclusionary racial preferences for potential partners.

The researchers note that these race-based preferences – usually expressed by the white majority seeking to exclude people of color – are a common part of the narrative within these online spaces.

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However, the degree to which racial and ethnic minorities perceive race-based partner selection as racist gets overshadowed by these personal preference narratives, Wade said.

Whiteness is the hallmark of desirability for some participants in these networks, and some researchers have called race-based partner selection “the new face of racism in online sexual and dating networks of gay/bisexual men,” according to Wade and Harper’s study.

RSD also emerges in statements that reject, erotically objectify or denigrate men of color and perpetuate stereotypes about their perceived sexual prowess, sexual roles or physical attributes.

Wade and Harper hypothesize that exposure to these experiences may foment feelings of shame, humiliation and inferiority, negatively impacting the self-esteem and overall psychological health of racial and ethnic minorities.

“We ran a series of focus groups to talk about this phenomenon, to determine the different domains it includes and to identify RSD-related experiences that could be measured,” Wade said.

Using information gathered from focus group participants, Wade and Harper developed a scale of RSD that categorized men’s experiences into four domains – exclusion, rejection, degradation and erotic objectification.

The scale consists of 60 items that assess a broad scope of unique RSD experiences across all four of the hypothesized domains, accounting for the effect and frequency of these experiences and the perpetrator’s race.

“RSD perpetrated by in-group members – people of their same race – came up as a major point in our focus group discussions,” Wade said. “Participants discussed how being discriminated against by people of their own racial or ethnic group hurt in a unique way, so we wanted to account for that too when developing the scale.”

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The overall impact of any given RSD experience is measured by multiplying the frequency and effect scores for each domain, Wade said.

To test the scale, Wade and Harper launched a project called ProfileD, in which they recruited young gay and bisexual black men ages 18-29 through social media to participate in an online survey about their RSD experiences.

Data from more than 2,000 participants who consented to be in that project were used in preliminary analyses of the scale.

Discrimination among apps users is not exactly new.

In October 2019, for instance, a study found that Grindr, the most popular dating app for gay, bisexual, two-spirit and queer men, had a negative effect on men’s body image, especially when it came to weight. The study also found that apart from weight stigma, body dissatisfaction stemmed from sexual objectification and appearance comparison.

Three out of four gay men are reported to have used Grindr.

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