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Sarah Massey (she/her), on internet privacy

Sarah Massey, she / her, is a freedom lover, versed Media Communications expert and successful entrepreneur. Her latest startup, freeQ.love offers a highly secure online video events platform for marginalized communities. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community herself, Sarah Massey impressed us with the motivation and energy which she uses to talk about helping her peers, and others, have a safer experience online. To celebrate her recent success at StartupLeap, we asked her a couple of questions about her startup, her thoughts on internet safety and future plans.

To start off lightly, did the scope of your business have anything to do with you moving to Amsterdam?

Our new business is called freeQ, with a tagline of “freedom for Queers.” When it comes to Amsterdam, the queer and LGBTQ+ communities enjoy the city as welcoming. Marriage equality was celebrated here first in the world in 2001. Amsterdam Pride is renowned for its artistry, culture, and community building. Yes, team freeQ loves Amsterdam for being queer-friendly and also for Amsterdam’s focus on the environement. freeQ seeks to be a netzero business. 

 

How did you become interested in internet privacy?

At freeQ, we call “internet privacy” a new term we coined as “safer tech,” which is more like “safer sex.” Like there is no perfect way to avoid STIs or pregnancy, there is no simple way to keep your use of the internet completely private.

What freeQ offers on our safer tech is a video events tool without any artificial intelligence spying and without biased algorithms installed. freeQ events are never recorded, so people can be themselves and not worry that their image or art will be used again. We also pledge to never sell our user data.

freeQ’s safer tech was born of a need for queer and sex-positive people to be able to be ourselves online without bogus user rules that limit our behavior. Our communities also encounter dangerous bullying and painful censorship on commercial social media platforms. (see: https://www.freeq.love/post/the-entire-social-media-sector-is-effectively-unsafe-for-lgbtq-users-according-to-glaad-and-freeq) So, we at freeQ decided we needed our own community-centered online events tech, built for queers, by queers.

 

Are internet users as aware of their privacy as you’d like them to be?

For me, the question is more about how tech companies profit off user data and more about how users are unaware of how they are being used and manipulated online. Social media users give away their data and their privacy in exchange for “free” services. Do these services have value regardless of how many users they can attract and how to sell their data? At freeQ, our value and earnings are more like a theater. We sell tickets, manage the space, attendees have a great time, and then we close for the night. We do not sell our users data because we respect their privacy.

 

Do you notice any difference between how LGBTQ+ people perceive the topic in comparison to the views of other demographics?

When it comes to online bullying and censorship, our LGBTQ+ community understands how dangerous social media can be, especially for our youth. All populations outside of the cis, white, hetero-spaces experience hate and bullying online. It’s actually a huge societal issue that we are not addressing fast enough. 

freeQ launched with our own communities and events that I participated in and organized. As we go forward, we envision licensing our tech solutions to more communities and we want to. freeQ believes everyone deserves safe spaces to connect online and that’s what we are building. 

 

Do you hope freeQ.love will convince the bigger players to approach privacy differently or do you want to compete against them directly?

Can we do both? I am an activist for social justice, and I am hungry to prove freeQ’s point that earnings and profits come with safer tech. So, yes, I want to build platforms where users are uplifted in their online experiences, while also having their privacy protected. At the same time, I do want the big five social media platforms to do better. freeQ will both compete and change the rules of the game.

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