Simon Aronoff

Friends I Know: Social networking for equality

Filed By Simon Aronoff | June 19, 2008 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Facebook, internet, Myspace, social networking

Online social networking sites are nothing new for most people these days. LogoFYK.jpgBetween sites like MySpace and Facebook, it is hard to keep up with all that goes on, not to mention escape all that you really don't want to be a part of. On the one hand (Facebook), you can be instantly updated and alerted the minute your friends do anything, on the other hand (MySpace), you can be bombarded by friend requests from anyone and everyone under the sun - forget the fact that you will most likely never know these "friends".

Actually, it's sites like these that make me feel slightly weary of joining in the first place--especially as an out transperson. Why can't there be a site that is truly about networking, keeping in touch with friends, building community, and not worrying about being contacted by creepy Internet strangers?

Not the most tech savvy person in the world, my interns have laughed at me for believing that Facebook had magical powers that just knew who people were in photographs when I roll my cursor over people (it's called "tagging"...who knew?), and MySpace had gone from hot to not before I even got around to setting up a profile. Yet, I am an early adopter on FriendsYouKnow.com.

Finally, a social networking site that I have had the privilege of getting to know about before the majority of the country! Full disclosure: I know about FYK because I was hired to give input early on (not techie input, mind you).

What is new and what I truly appreciate about FriendsYouKnow.com is that it is by and for LGBTQ and Allies, and it supports equality (financially and otherwise). FYK is a paid subscription site, but I don't feel bad about opening my wallet because 10% of all subscription fees are going back to LGBTA non-profits that are fighting the good fight (like PFLAG National, CenterLink, and National Youth Advocacy Coalition to name a few). Finally, a social networking site that gives back to the community (beyond helping one find a dinner date).

I hope to see many familiar faces at FYK, especially since the Beta phase just launched. Ooo, I said "beta phase"....don't I know my Web stuff now!


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Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | June 19, 2008 6:10 PM

Hi and welcome, Simon! I don't think we've met. (I was AWOL!) It's great to see another transman at Bilerico!

Honestly, I already feel oversubscribed and spread too thin with MySpace, Glee and LikedIn to take on yet another social network, especially one that charges. But the idea they donate to LGBT-causes is tempting...how much is FYK's subscription?

Yeah, I second what Brynn said.

At this point any new networking site is going to have to already be at critical mass to the point where I can't communicate or do business efficiently without it before I sign up.

Simon Aronoff Simon Aronoff | June 19, 2008 8:36 PM

Critical mass coming soon!

Full disclosure here: Jerame recently accepted a job with FriendsYouKnow.com as a programmer.

Obviously, I have a profile (I think I was in the first 10 people to get one!). While they're in beta testing, it costs $1 to join. It would normally cost a monthly fee; I'm not sure how that will all work out when they're out of beta phase. (Jerame would know.)

But, it's $1. The only reason they're charging $1 for the beta phase is so you have confirmed your identity (no hiding behind some crazy name that doesn't tell you anything about the person). They use a credit card for name/age verification and so they charge $1 on it.

Give 'em a whirl. They're not at critical mass yet, but it's rather cool to be in on the ground floor and keep watching it grow and expand.

Cathy Renna Cathy Renna | June 20, 2008 7:01 AM

it will be $10 out of BETA - full disclosure, Simon and I are doing their PR. Full full disclosure, I recommended they speak with Bil and Jerame because I know they would be terrific assets to the project. from he first time I spoke with Matt Small - the straight ally who is the brains behind the idea - I knew he was devoted to making this the best site possible AND giving back to the community. I have worked with other sites, this one is the real deal and feels so much more community based than any others.

Uh - this seems a bit UNseemly, Simon. Your first post here basically being an ad for a company you work for. And the cutsey "it's easy enough even I can use it!" is a tad obvious.

For those reasons alone - won't go near it.

Simon Aronoff Simon Aronoff | June 20, 2008 10:29 AM

Kathy, okay, don’t join. That’s totally fine if it’s not your thing. But please know that I have been out and advocating for LGBTQ equality for more than half of my life. If I chose to be involved with a project, it’s because I think it has potential to move us forward, either through public education or, in this case, community building and philanthropy. There is nothing unseemly about that.

I don't get it. I don't have a problem with facebook since I get to control who I become friends with and it's free. I'm able to build community whiles choosing which organizations I donate money to but without the "allied" middleman making a profit in the name of community.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | June 20, 2008 12:39 PM

I've just checked out the site and I like what I see. It's laid out nicely, I appreciate the "transgender" choice for gender, it seems fast and responsive. I've been looking for something like this with a more queer emphasis.... I've decided to join as a beta-user.