Recent events have shown that the Internet is a safe and inclusive space for all women (JK, LOL, AHOO-HOO-HAH-HAH). Thankfully, former Facebook employee Susan Johnson has launched Women.com, a question-driven social media site that may make that dream as close to a reality as possible—and considering her aspirations for the platform, I couldn’t be more excited.
Women.com is still in an invite-only beta stage (you can request to join via Twitter. I’m hoping to check out the party soon), and, much like Yahoo Answers, is a forum where users can pose questions and then upvote results. However, unlike the anonymous respondents on Yahoo, a Women.Com account links back to the user’s Facebook. This way members have some accountability even when accessing a more private platform than Facebook to pose tricky questions. (Slate’s article on Women.com lists a sample question as “Friend’s husband is cheating. Do I say something?” Not necessarily a question you want on your wall, unless the answer is definitely “yes.”)
In an interview with Slate, Johnson discussed the ways she hopes the platform will evolve as it gains popularity, saying she was inspired to create the site so frequently-silenced voices could finally be heard:
The Internet has traditionally not been a very safe space for women to speak their minds. Women dominate all these social platforms online—we’re 58 percent of Facebook and 84 percent of Pinterest—but our offline conversations aren’t matching our online conversations [...] A lot of comments sections are hidden below the fold or overrun with trolling comments; on Facebook, we’re talking with seemingly everyone, so we’re not necessarily sharing our thoughts on the Middle East, or even what we bought at Nordstrom.
She also promised to prioritize inclusivity:
Women.com is an inclusive community for all women. If you identify as a woman, you’re welcome here. We allow everyone to connect through Facebook Connect, and if you’re a trans woman who identifies as a woman on Facebook, then that’s that. You’re in. If you’re someone without a Facebook profile, there are a couple of more steps you’ll go through for verification—users can send us their LinkedIn profile or photos of themselves—and we have a very diligent community management team that’s on the site all the time, monitoring the conversations to make sure they’re authentic.
To read about Johnson’s plans for the site’s inevitable trolls and to get insight on the unique way advertisers cater to women, head over to Slate. Of course, Women.com will still be part of the Internet, so successfully nurturing a “new home for women” will be difficult at best. Here’s hoping that the site catches on—perhaps it could even offer some more tech career opportunities for women in the process?