Spyware Company Promises It Can Determine If Your Son Is Gay

"The sexual orientation of your children, directly responsible for the continuation of your family, is very important to you."

A French computer company promises its spyware can “find out if your son is gay.”

Tracking software is popular with anxious parents, and Fireworld boasted it could reveal all kinds of information about your kids’ online behavior. If you thought Junior was gay, Fireworld claimed in an article, it would help you in “monitoring his Facebook use,” copying his browser history, “spying on his private messages,” and other fun-but-unethical fancies.

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“Family is fundamental,” the copy read. “That’s why the sexual orientation of your children, directly responsible for the continuation of your family, is very important to you.”

It went on to claim there are several signs a young man might be gay—including shyness, “taking good care of himself,” a love of theater, and liking female singers and divas.

Marlène Schiappa, France’s Secretary of State for Equality, said the article proved how “homophobia and sexism have their roots in the same gender stereotypes. We will fight them together.”

Fireworld took the article down and issued an apology to the LGBT youth group L’Amicale des jeunes du Refuge.

“The article had the sole aim of improving search engine optimization and was never intended to be read by humans,” the company stated in an email. “We regret not having reflected on the consequences of this type of content… We sincerely apologize to all those who may have felt offended by this content,”

In France it’s illegal to install spyware on someone’s computer without them knowing. But the English language version of Fireworld’s site offers numerous scenarios in which a customer might want to monitor someone else’s computer, including checking up on employees, finding out if your spouse is cheating, or “controlling your teenage offspring’s PC.”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.
@ItsDanAvery