Facebook Accidentally "Outs" Gay Kids to Their Parents
|Facebook isn't helping everyone find friends|
The Wall Street Journal first reported the story of Bobbi Duncan, 22, and Taylor McCormick, 21, both students at the University of Texas, whose fathers learned they are gay after they were added to their school's Queer Chorus Facebook group. Unknown to them, an update was posted on Facebook, indicating the two had joined the gay group.
"Our hearts go out to these young people," Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said. "Their unfortunate experience reminds us that we must continue our work to empower and educate users about our robust privacy controls."
As users may not know, Facebook has three options for discussion groups: "secret," meaning only members can see the group, "closed," which non-members can see exists, but can't see posts, and "open," which every user can see. Facebook users can be added to a group by a friend, without them having to first approve it.
In this case, the group was set to "open."
Both students claim they used Facebook privacy settings to ensure certain people -- especially their fundamentalist family -- would not find out about their sexual orientation. "Once I had my Facebook settings set, I knew -- or thought I knew -- there wasn't any problem," Duncan said. She told reporters that since the Facebook saga, her father has left her angry voicemails, threatening to cut ties with her.
Her father recently left the following status on his own Facebook page, according to news reports: "To all you queers. Go back to your holes and wait for GOD. Hell awaits you pervert. Good luck singing there."
Likewise, McCormick found himself entangled in family drama after his father learned he was gay. His mother reportedly called him the night the post appeared: "She said, 'Shit has hit the fan ... your dad has found out.' I asked how," he said, "and she said it was all over Facebook."