Hornet, the world’s queer tech platform with more than 35 million users, today announces the release of Spaces Version 1.0. Spaces enables queer people to build communities around shared passions. Hornet has always been about providing safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people. Now Spaces takes a bold step closer to that goal by enabling queer users to find — and build — communities around the culture, entertainment, events and interests they share in common.
At its core, SPACES is built around group chat — fun, engaging and free-flowing conversations with like-minded humans. Each Space on the app is a micro-community for a specific slice of the LGBTQ+ community — from gaymers, runners and gay parenting groups to queer Star Wars fans and yoga practitioners. SPACES makes discovery easy, so new users can readily find and join the communities that matter to them, and quickly connect with other queer people who share their interests.
The group chat includes announcement posts and the ability to schedule online and offline events. Spaces, events and posts can be made public for greater discoverability or private for invitees only.
But SPACES isn’t just about joining pre-existing communities. Rather, the platform is built specifically to empower SPACES Hosts — everyday people turned into super-users by the powerful community tools loaded into the platform. With only a few clicks, Hosts can not just create a Space for their own passions but also reach sizeable queer audiences to join them. Hosts are empowered to lay out the ground rules for governing and moderating their space.
SPACES’ robust moderation tools are built specifically for the queer community — protecting users by keeping trolls and would-be harassers at bay — one of many priorities on which heteronormative platforms fall dangerously short. Indeed, many community organizers feel their attempts to reach queer audiences on platforms like Facebook are hindered due to inherently discriminatory algorithms, heteronormative moderation standards and selective enforcement on imagery — content that would easily pass heteronormative moderation but is censored away in the context of their queer identities.
According to GLAAD’s first-ever Social Media Safety Index published in May 2021, 64% of LGBTQ Americans were subject to online harassment and discrimination on heteronormative social networks such as Facebook. As a result, 88% of queer people prefer to spend all or most of their free time pursuing their common interests and passions in queer-run communities. SPACES facilitates this ground-up community building at scale using technology as a force for good.
“Absorbing all the learnings from Hornet’s 10 years serving the LGBTQ+ community, we saw a clear gap in the market for a product focused around community engagement rather than individual profiles,” says Christof Wittig, founder and CEO of Hornet. “Each of our users already sends 30 chat messages per day, so we know this is a format users prefer. Now we’re extending chat to empower our users to organize with other queer people around common passions and interests, while doubling down on our commitment to the safety and authenticity of queer people that has made us so successful.”
“Hornet wants to create a world where there are safe spaces for queer people to be themselves,” says Doug Atkin, adviser to Hornet and former head of community at AirBnB and Meetup.com. “The launch of Spaces is a huge step in making this big goal a reality. People tend to feel they can be themselves when they are around others who share their values, interests and passions. Not only will queer folk be amongst other queer folk on Spaces, but they will be able to find those who also share their passions and interests. I’m proud to be part of this launch of Spaces. It will provide safe spaces for queer people to form communities without fear of marginalization, or abuse that’s all too common on mainstream social networks.”
Spaces is available for immediate download in the Apple App Store here, with an Android Version to follow later this year