Category Archives: Official Google Blog

Insights from Googlers into our topics, technology, and the Google culture

An update on our Privacy Sandbox commitments

For further background on this topic, please see our blog from June.

Since we announced our Privacy Sandbox commitments earlier this year, we have continued to work with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to address feedback that was raised as part of its public consultation process. We have also continued to update and seek feedback from the market and the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) on our proposals.

We are determined to ensure that the Privacy Sandbox is developed in a way that works for the entire ecosystem and, as part of this process, we have now offered revised commitments, which can be found in full on the CMA’s website.

These revisions underline our commitment to ensuring that the changes we make in Chrome will apply in the same way to Google’s ad tech products as to any third party, and that the Privacy Sandbox APIs will be designed, developed and implemented with regulatory oversight and input from the CMA and the ICO. We also support the objectives set out yesterday in the ICO’s Opinion on Data protection and privacy expectations for online advertising proposals, including the importance of supporting and developing privacy-safe advertising tools that protect people’s privacy and prevent covert tracking.

The revised commitments incorporate a number of changes including:

  1. Monitoring and reporting. We have offered to appoint an independent Monitoring Trustee who will have the access and technical expertise needed to ensure compliance.
  2. Testing and consultation. We have offered the CMA more extensive testing commitments, along with a more transparent process to take market feedback on the Privacy Sandbox proposals.
  3. Further clarity on our use of data. We are underscoring our commitment not to use Google first-party personal data to track users for targeting and measurement of ads shown on non-Google websites. Our commitments would also restrict the use of Chrome browsing history and Analytics data to do this on Google or non-Google websites.

If the CMA accepts these commitments, we will apply them globally.

We continue to appreciate the thoughtful approach and engagement from the CMA and ICO as we develop our Privacy Sandbox proposals. We welcome, and will carefully consider, any comments that people provide during the consultation process.

New EU political ads law is a step in the right direction

Having access to the right information matters. During a democratic election, it matters more than ever. High-quality information helps people make informed decisions when voting and counteracts abuse by bad actors. Through programs like security training for campaigns, information about polling places and transparency for political ads, Google is committed to helping support the integrity of democratic processes around the world.

Political advertising is an important component of democratic elections — candidates use ads to raise awareness, share information and engage potential voters. Over the last few years, Google has proactively increased transparency around election advertising: we updated our ads policies to require election advertisers to verify their identities and show who’s paying for an ad. We also introduced transparency reporting for online election ads in Europe as well as in the US and other countries around the world, providing a range of data that goes well beyond what’s typically available for TV, radio or print ads.

We have also made real changes to how election advertising works. In 2020, we implemented industry-leading restrictions to limit election ads’ audience targeting to age, gender and general location (at the postal code level), similar to categories candidates would use in deciding where to run ads on TV shows or in print. That same year, we started rolling out identity verification and disclosures for all advertisers, providing even wider transparency about ad sponsors. These improvements, and more, are part of a larger focus on political advertising that helped us navigate elections in the European Union, the United States, India (the largest democratic election in history) and other leading countries.

Google was one of the original signatories of the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation, which has led to constructive actions and change between the industry, policymakers and the expert community on the challenges of addressing disinformation. The Code laid out a model for voluntary action, facilitating work with policymakers on new transparency reporting on political advertising and helping users, governments and academics better understand how online election ads work.

We share the Commission's goal of increasing the harmonization of Europe’s transparency rules for political advertising and we support today’s introduction of legislation. As we expand our own efforts, we look forward to engaging with the Commission on how best to meet the goals laid out by the Democracy Action Plan and Digital Services Act. This is a complex field, requiring a balance between minimizing misinformation while protecting legitimate political expression. The Commission’s proposal is an important and welcome step and as the European Council and Parliament review it, we offer a few observations based on our experiences over recent election cycles.

  • Clear definitions for ‘political’ ads: It’s critical that the law clarifies which actors and what types of content are subject to the obligations regarding political advertising, giving clear examples of what would or would not be in scope. Without clear definitions, different companies will adopt inconsistent and conflicting policies, making for confusion for advertisers and undermining transparency for citizens. The current text could also inadvertently impact a wider range of ads than intended — for example, sweeping in ads from NGOs on issues of public concern or from private citizens speaking out about social questions.
  • Clear responsibilities for platforms and advertisers: Protecting elections is a shared responsibility and we all need to play our part to be more transparent. Advertisers are in the best position to validate their identity and best understand the nature and context of their ads. They play a critical role in providing accurate information and (as they do with other media like television) ensuring that their content complies with applicable laws. Advertiser “self-declaration” — whereby political advertisers verify their identities and declare when they are running political ads — would have advertisers due their share to contribute to transparency, making the law work better in practice.
  • Flexibility and dialogue: This is a dynamic and fast moving environment and we have seen a lot of changes to both political ads and governing regulations. Continuing discussions with stakeholders will help regulation react to changing contexts or emerging trends that might affect definitions, regulatory provisions or enforcement.

Elections are a fundamental part of democracy, and new regulations can help keep elections open, transparent and accountable. Legal certainty in those regulations will help candidates, campaigns, advertisers, publishers and platforms understand the precise scope of covered advertising and the specific obligations of each actor. In the coming months we look forward to sharing our experiences with the different institutions and bodies working to advance these important topics.

PubCast Season 2: turning passions into profits

PubCast is a podcast featuring the stories of website creators and app developers who turned their passions into profit with help from Google. In our second season of the series, you’ll hear from small business founders across the globe sharing how they launched their digital businesses and navigated challenges like the pandemic. Using AdSense, Ad Manager and AdMob to earn ad revenue, these businesses create free content, tools and resources that contribute to a thriving, open internet.

You can listen to the miniseries on the [email protected] podcast channel — just look for PubCast in the episode title — or anywhere you find podcasts.

Check out our Season 2 episodes:

  1. Jessica Rovello | Building your favorite games and a thriving digital business: Jessica Rovello is the CEO and Co-Founder of Arkadium, a game development company that has built hundreds of games enjoyed on over 800 million devices worldwide. Arkadium has been voted one of Inc. Magazine's best places to work and takes an employee-centric approach to growth.
  2. Dennis Littley | Helping the world create restaurant-quality food at home: Chef Dennis Littley got his start as a classically trained chef, and kindled his passion for teaching by creating a culinary program at the high school he worked at. Now, Chef Dennis works full time on his food and travel site, Ask Chef Dennis, helping people create restaurant-quality meals at home.
  3. Christeen Skinner | Bringing astrology online and building an audience from zero: Christeen Skinner is the Director of City Scopes, an astrology-focused company founded in 1998 in London. The company has grown to offer a variety of resources, like astrology sites, training courses, books and more. Christeen now focuses her time on expanding into other areas, such as using astrology to try to predict financial outcomes.
  4. Paul Husbands | Amplifying Caribbean artists on the world stage: Paul Husbands is the CEO and Founder of Selecta Charts, a first-of-its-kind music streaming platform for Caribbean artists. Since its launch, Selecta Charts has drawn thousands of listeners and propelled hundreds of artists to new heights.
  5. Horatiu Boeriu | From zero to millions: How BMW Blog drove to journalistic success: Horatiu Boeriu is the CEO and Founder of BMW Blog, a Chicago-based website dedicated to automotive journalism with a focus on the BMW brand. Horatiu transformed his website from a passion project into a respected media outlet in the car industry, and has grown his audience to several million car enthusiasts.

Are you a digital business owner who uses AdSense, AdMob or Ad Manager, and want to be featured on PubCast? Fill out our feedback form, including your contact information and a few sentences about your business.

And if you’re interested in learning how to earn money from your site or app, check out how Google AdSense, AdMob and Ad Manager can help.

How making lists became this entrepreneur’s brand

The day Saya Hillman got fired from her last full-time job in 2004, she made two lists. One was of all the things she wished she could get paid to do, no matter how ridiculous. The other was a list of names, ones that gave her a “warm and fuzzy” feeling, for the company she decided she would start. And so Mac & Cheese Productions℠ was born — and lists would become a big part of its success.

Saya had always made lists as a way to connect with people. She’d been sending emails to friends for a while, “really random lists of ‘here are things that I have found interesting,’” such as articles, tech gadgets and books. The feedback was great, and Saya realized it could be a great sales tactic for her new business. “I don’t have that used-car salesman, ‘buy me buy me’ feeling,” she says. “I’m just doing what I already love to do.’”

Today Mac & Cheese Productions℠ offers a wide range of resources, events and content designed to connect people and help them live aLife of Yes℠, a concept Saya created and defines as “making life easy and more fulfilling.” Her lists — which she sends out in newsletters and posts on her website — continue to serve as a gateway to attract more “Cheese-Its,” as she calls her followers.

While some lists are humorous and lighthearted, like Saya’s boyfriend criteria, she also offers practical ones — including her popularservice provider list. Even that one abides by Saya’s community-minded credo: She only includes providers who she has worked with directly or have been recommended by someone she knows and trusts.

Saya shared some tips on how lists can help attract attention to a website, and why they’re so integral to her brand.

A handwritten list divided into two columns, one labeled “More” with items like “I tried” and “Connection”; the other labeled “Less” with items like “Stasis” and “I failed.”

One of Saya’s lists captures her “Life of Yes℠” philosophy.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel

“I don't think any of us are coming up with anything new — it's all how you put your own personal spin on the thing,” says Saya. So while her list concepts might not be a novel idea, her whimsical approach — where lists for home office equipment recommendations and her own pet peeves are on the same page — is.

Lists also help busy people make sense of an overwhelming amount of information. “People are hungry for curators,” she points out. “That’s why lists are so popular. They’re easy to share, they’re easy to consume.”

Lists also align with her overall ethos for Mac & Cheese Productions℠. “One of my favorite things is helping people to be more efficient and create systems,” she says. “The list format lends itself to be productive and efficient and good at time management.”

Be authentic — but it’s OK to make money too

Trustworthy referrals and recommendations have been a huge part of Saya’s success. “People know you’re doing it because you actually love the product or the person,” she says, explaining she has never received money from anyone that she’s put on her service provider list or other recommendation lists. Instead, it’s a “win-win” that spreads goodwill and website traffic all around, and can eventually result in opportunities and income, if not always directly or immediately.

That said, she’s unapologetic about taking a piece of the pie through affiliate marketing and her paid marketing services, as long as the products and services meet her requirements. “You just have to share that upfront,” she says.

Use lists to expand your network and draw visitors

Saya uses lists strategically to grow her network and draw more visitors to her site. “I’m spending all this time curating and creating for free, but to get that information, you need to go to my website, instead of me just giving you the information,” she points out.

Tying lists to holidays, seasons or other events can also forge connections and drive engagement. For example, while most of her lists are evergreen, Saya also offers an annual gift guide where she tags the businesses’ or individuals’ Instagram accounts — which helps expand her reach. “I’m always thinking, how can you make what you create easy to share?” she says.

Designing a new local product for French urban readers

Editor’s Note from Ludovic Blecher, Head of Google News Initiative Innovation:The GNI Innovation Challengeprogram is designed to stimulate forward-thinking ideas for the news industry. The story below by Pascal Brouet, EBRA COO and Local Pulse Project Director, is part of an innovator seriessharing inspiring stories and lessons from funded projects.

When I took on the job of leading digital transformation for the French local daily newspaper group EBRA in 2018, print circulation was falling. The challenge for our future was revealed in our data — while circulation in the countryside was holding up, there was a sizable opportunity for expansion in metropolitan areas. And so our three-pronged internal project (at that time code-named “Local Pulse”) was conceived.


Working with Google

We applied for the Google News Initiative's DNI Fund, spelling out how we wanted to: (1) win back urban readers with a new editorial offering for each of the main cities covered by EBRA brands, (2) deliver that news through a mobile platform more attractive to urbanites and (3) ensure its sustainability with a subscriber-led business model.

The starting point for the work was a survey of more than 1,200 urban readers to get a better understanding of their consumption of local information, their main topics of interest, and most pressing concerns in their day-to-day life. We used their input and feedback to define an editorial mix and value proposition with some key principles:

  • Dedicated journalists on the project
  • A limited number of useful, essential and deeper-dive articles covering city life, without an information overload
  • A brand refresh and new style guide for the design and reading experience within a mobile app

Our editorial purpose required us to define a new revenue model mainly based on subscription and native advertising, breaking with the old advertising models which could only deliver results with mass audiences. Marketing this model — without any previous experience of this type of model — continues to be one of the biggest challenges for commercial teams and was exacerbated further by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also posed a challenge for our core editorial teams. During the beta phase in spring 2021, we did not completely succeed in delivering our editorial promise and value proposition. Over two weeks, we exposed our daily editorial mix to more than 200 beta-testers and as a result of the insights, refocused the editorial team on original local news rather than lifestyle content.


Launching ASAPP

In the Fall of 2021, after two years of work with the support of the DNI Fund, Local Pulse gave birth to ASAPP — a mobile app designed for younger, urban readers — and launched in Lyon and Strasbourg. The first results of ASAPP seem positive: 2,000 registered users and high engagement with an increased number of page views per visit (about 10 page views per visit),and high engagement rates with social communities (especially on Instagram, with 150,000 page views in the first month). Over the next three months, we will continue to improve user experience and specific benefits for subscribers before launching ASAPP in more metropolitan areas.

A Chilean startup helps newsrooms grow their audiences

Editor’s note from Ludovic Blecher, Head of Google News Initiative Innovation: The GNI Innovation Challengeprogram is designed to stimulate forward-thinking ideas for the news industry. The story below by Miguel Paz, CEO and Founder of Reveniu, is part of an innovator seriessharing inspiring stories and learnings from funded projects.

“Do you believe me now?” is my favorite question. It’s the one I ask news organizations after they launch recurring payment programs for their audiences using Reveniu. When we look at the numbers from their first month using our tools, they see their revenues have doubled or sometimes even increased up to five times what they expected. These kinds of results drive our team’s work.

And it’s personal for me. As a former journalist and newsroom editor, I know how difficult it can be to develop technical solutions. When you are a small organization focused on producing good journalism, you don’t have the time or resources to develop advanced tools or platforms to drive audience revenue. I learned this firsthand when my last newsroom tried to develop a membership platform. We were discouraged by the sheer amount of work required — writing code, setting up payment gateways, fixing bugs, the list went on.

So I decided to build and launch Reveniu, a 5-minute-setup subscriptions and membership management platform for news organizations and small businesses with little to no tech experience or support. These businesses now have an easy-to-use platform with 24/7 support, including growth advice. These are the kinds of tools that would have helped me when I was in the newsroom myself.

The Google News Initiative’s support was crucial to jumpstart our work. The financial support we received from the Innovation Challenge, plus the help from the Global Partnerships team at Google Chile, gave our startup the necessary runway to conduct audience research for news organizations and overall research for product development. Since our launch, we’ve grown by an average of 20% month over month and raised over $300,000 in pre-seed money from venture capital funds and local angel investors. And our Software-as-a-Service is the one most widely used by newsrooms, newsletters and podcasts in Chile, a country with over 19 million people — and it’s having a concrete impact.

For example, Interferencia.cl now manages over 4,000 subscribers through Reveniu, representing an important part of their revenue stream. “El Semanal,” the country’s most influential business and finance newsletter, launched using Reveniu and has grown its subscription base three times beyond its original goals. The award-winning investigative reporter Alejandra Matus has funded the monthly operations for her website using Reveniu and was able to launch La Neta, which is partly funded by supporters paying through our platform. National broadcaster and podcaster Paula Molina and the podcast Relato Nacional are also growing their audience bases using our tools without having to spend any money upfront. 

At Reveniu, our goal is to help our customers build audiences and focus on delivering high-quality journalism, without worrying about cost. And as we expand to more Latin American countries in 2022, we look forward to supporting even more news creators and helping them grow their businesses.

A Matter of Impact: November updates from Google.org

COP26 wrapped up last week, and world leaders and industry experts headed home with commitments made to work together to further reduce emissions. You can learn more about Google’s commitments in this blog post.

Even for climate negotiators, transparent and trustworthy data around emissions can be hard to come by. Historically, there has been a limited push to build the kind of data sets and models needed to create a shared fact base for everyone. So we asked ourselves: How can we help advocates, citizens, governments and businesses take action on climate, faster?

We believe philanthropic dollars can play a critical role in creating important public goods, like transparent data sets and accessible digital tools, that might not otherwise exist. The world urgently needs a solid foundation of data and tools to monitor and verify our progress to make better decisions. That’s why much of our sustainability-related philanthropy is now focused on funding the creation and organization of data and the tools to make this data easily usable.

Three of our grantees launched tools around COP26 that are examples of this in action. Climate TRACE, the world’s first independent, comprehensive, near-real time greenhouse gas (GHG) monitoring platform uses large-scale data and AI models to provide neutral, accurate data for everyone. On the small business side, the work of Normative is hugely promising. They’re building out emissions estimates for SMBs and helping companies automatically compile detailed carbon reports so that they have actionable data to make better decisions around reducing their footprint. And for consumers, there’s Open Food Facts, an open-access food products database where users can see the eco-score of food products with a simple scan of the barcode from a mobile device.

We’re proud to support these organizations and look forward to more opportunities to combine philanthropic funding with technology to help everyone take action on climate change.

In case you missed it 

Here’s recent progress our grantees have made to close these data gaps.

  • BlueConduit is mapping out lead pipes across the U.S, for remediation.
  • Open Food Facts expanded to 50 countries — you’ll hear more on that from their co-founder Pierre Slamich below.
  • Normative debuted their Industry CO2 Insights carbon emissions accounting engine for small businesses at COP26.
  • Restor launched an open data platform built on Google Earth Engine that allows anyone to select an area around the world and analyze its restoration potential.
  • Dark Matter Labs launched their first version of TreesAI (Trees As Infrastructure), an open source platform to make it easy to map, monitor and forecast ecosystem services. The tool helps local authorities attract funds to develop and maintain urban nature-focused tools to fight climate change.
  • Climate TRACE, supported by $8 million in funding from Google.org and a team of Google.org Fellows, talked about their emissions tracking project in this video.

Hear from one of our grantees: Open Food Facts

Pierre Slamich is the co-founder of Open Food Facts, a collaborative effort to create a worldwide database of food products, thanks to mobile apps that also empower citizens to make more informed food choices. Last spring, Open Food Facts received a $1.3 million Google.org grant and support from a team of 11 Google.org Fellows.

A few words with a Google.org Fellow: Astrid Weber

Astrid Weber is a UX Manager on the Google Assistant team and currently working with Normative for a six month Fellowship.

How this Googler celebrates Native American Heritage Month all year

When I was growing up, my Misho (my grandfather) was the chief of our tribe (Prairie Band Potawatomi) and would often tell my brother and me stories and tales sacred to our Indigenous history. When I was in second grade, I asked my Misho to come into my class to tell his stories for show and tell. I was immensely proud of him, and grateful for the opportunity to share my culture with my classmates. But after he left, my classmates started calling me names like “Pocahontas,” and war-whooping at me on the playground. After that, I didn’t mention my tribe or Native affiliation to classmates or colleagues again until I was in my 20s.

An older man with brown skin and white hair and a mustache in a pale blue button down short sleeve shirt (Cheryl’s Misho) is holding a younger girl (Cheryl) with brown hair and white skin, in a white short, puffy sleeved shirt. They are both smiling at the camera (Misho with a closed mouth smile, Cheryl with a tooth-smile).

Cheryl and her Misho

When I got pregnant, I realized I wanted to reconnect with my culture. I wanted my son to know about the powerful, strong history of the Prairie Band Potawatomi, and about his family and my Misho. I threw myself into trying to learn the language, the history and our stories again. I bought my son children’s books written by Indigenous authors, and watched every film and movie I could about Indigenous culture — even if it wasn’t about the Potawatomi.

As part of reconnecting with my heritage, I also joined Google’s Aboriginal and Indigenous Network (GAIN) to stay up to date on any native-focused events at work. I’d been a member of other employee resource groups at Google before, like [email protected] and [email protected], but I wanted to find a group of other Native and Indigenous people. I was thrilled to discover GAIN and see that there were not only other Indigenous Googlers like me, but that there were enough of them to organize their own group.

During this time reconnecting to my heritage, I watched a film about the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) movement. According to the United States Department of Justice’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) Initiative, “American Indian and Alaska Native people suffer from unacceptable and disproportionately high levels of violence, which can have lasting impacts on families and communities.” In Australia and Canada, Aboriginal and First National Australian women are six times more likely to be victims of homicide than non-Native women. In the U.S., a Task Force was recently created with the purpose of working with tribal governments and developing protocols for the cases of missing and murdered Indigenous peoples, among other things. I remember feeling completely gutted after listening to the stories of Indigenous women disappearing from their Indian reservation, never to be seen again. This is particularly traumatic for many Indigenous tribes as funeral drum and burial ceremonies are critical for the spirit to move on to the afterlife, and for those of us behind to mourn.

After seeing that film, I reached out to GAIN leadership and asked what we could do to raise awareness for MMIW. The next thing I knew, we had a working group of more than a dozen people raising awareness and resources for MMIW organizations. We’ve even held 10 events with Googlers, including panels with Black and Indigenous women to discuss the intersectionality of murdered and missing women of color, began a podcast listening group, held a 5K run and hosted other fundraising and awareness events. This experience has made me feel more connected to my tribe and my culture. It’s empowered me to share more of my whole self at work — I’ve introduced colleagues to my language, for instance, and I’ve felt like I have a space to identify as Native American. I’m proud to be a member of GAIN, and appreciate how much they help to raise awareness not only about Indigenous culture but also MMIW.

There is a saying in the Indigenous community about MMIW: When an Indigenous woman goes missing, she goes missing twice — first her body vanishes and then her story.” With help from Googlers and GAIN, and through the work of MMIW organizations and their volunteers, I hope these Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit peoples do not go missing forever. You don’t have to be a Googler to take part: You can educate yourself about MMIW, look into policies meant to address this issue, or find ways to support organizations that advocate for MMIW. These missing people are not just faces on missing posters. They’re family — and we are all connected.

Women of color creators share their journeys to success

Women of color are doing incredible things online. They are creating educational and inspiring content, and making their marks as influencers in fashion and beauty, health and wellness, business, and more. They’re making a living building their brands and presenting their authentic selves . And they’re creating strong communities around their shared experiences.

Today, on Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, we’re launching The Conversation — a new YouTube series to share and celebrate the experiences of women of color creators. Each interview will feature a new woman of color creator talking about her background and journey, including her struggles and successes. Guests will share how they’ve built brands that resonate with others, and how they’ve turned their passions into full-time careers. They’ll also discuss how gender, race and culture have influenced their paths, the ups and downs of getting to where they are today, and what they hope to share with the world. No topic is off the table, including how to handle haters and overcome creator burnout.

Our first episode features creator Tyla-Lauren Gilmore. In 2015, after many years of straightening her hair, Tyla-Lauren decided to embrace her natural curls. She began documenting her personal transformation on Instagram and YouTube, and almost immediately, other women took notice. Today, more than 150,000 subscribers follow her beauty and lifestyle posts across her social media channels. Tyla-Lauren continues to share her personal stories in the hopes of inspiring other women to embrace their natural beauty and feel comfortable in their own skin.

Tyla-Lauren poses for the camera wearing a white button-down shirt and stylish glasses frames.

Tyla-Lauren Gilmore is the first creator featured in The Conversation.

Next month, we’ll hear from beauty and style influencer, fashion model and creative director Hannah Mussette. Hannah started creating content at the age of 12. Now, at 21, she’s a popular social media personality sharing modeling, fashion, makeup and hair care tips on YouTube and Instagram, and inviting candid discussions on topics such as self-care and social justice. She also co-founded a line of hair care products for natural Black hair called JuMu. The youngest creator interviewed in our series, Hannah shares what it’s been like to grow up online in front of an audience that supports and occasionally scrutinizes her content, which has evolved over the nine years she's been posting.

Hannah Musette walks on a sidewalk in front of a grey tiled wall. She has waist-length braids and is wearing a white shirt, baggy black pants, and a purse.

Hannah Musette is a fashion model and influencer who started creating YouTube videos in high school

The goal of The Conversation is to pull back the curtain on creators like Tyla-Lauren and Hannah so you can get to know the women behind the brands. Visit the Google for Creators YouTube channel to watch the first episode of The Conversation, and share what you thought in the comments.

A new literacy tool promoting inclusive LGBTQ+ language

Imagine living your truth, but not being able to tell anyone. That was my experience as a young queer person in small-town Alabama. Twenty years ago, nobody, including LGBTQ+ people, had the language we have today to talk about queerness or gender outside the binary. Coded language made it even more difficult to learn about the LGBTQ+ community, much less learn about myself. Even when I felt safe (mostly in anonymous chat rooms), I found it nearly impossible to talk about what I was going through.

It wasn’t until my college professor, Cliff Simon, shared his story that I first heard someone use terms like “gay” and “lesbian” without shame or judgement. Cliff’s story proved to me that I could be happy, and it’s the reason I came out — and ultimately, my inspiration to start VideoOut, an LGBTQ+ education and advocacy nonprofit.

As the population of openly LGBTQ+ people increases around the world, VideoOut aims to shepherd people from a place of limited exposure to a place of expanded understanding.

The left column displays letters in alphabetical order. In the middle, phrases like "Demisexual, Dip, Dysphoria, Femme" appear.

LGBTQ inclusive language glossary and definitions

I’m queer trans nonbinary. Not long ago, queer was a derogatory word — it’s what the bullies used when they weaponized their language against me. As attitudes and society evolved, so did our language and our understanding of the power words have to uplift or disparage people.

This year, VideoOut launched The LGBTQ+ Learning Project. It includes multiple phases, including a comprehensive educational resource and live community events that ladder up to our long term goal of building a museum on the National Mall. The Google News Initiative has supported us every step of the way during the first phase – the LGBTQ+ Language and Media Literacy Program.

Partnering with the GNI gave VideoOut the opportunity to work with a team of PhD linguists from the LGBTQ+ community to research the origin, evolution and current usage of 100 words and phrases that range from clinical terminology, like HRT and dysphoria, to slang terms used in niche communities like drag and ballroom. We will continue to expand the data visualization, designed by Polygraph, and employGoogle Trends technology to show the popularity of search terms over time.

This tool guides journalists through the complex world of LGBTQ+ vernacular. It shows who should be credited when using words that belong to marginalized communities. Most importantly, it arms reporters with knowledge, helping them to use LGBTQ+ terminology respectfully and accurately.

The program aims to inform people who are less familiar with the LGBTQ+ community, with the hopes of warming attitudes and fostering allyship. To that end, we’ve partnered with Men’s Health magazine to help contextualize the research and data in the program. We hope to reach a new audience and model how sharing information makes the most impact when it’s done across lines of difference.

The tool will be accessible through the Men’s Health website.

Queer and trans people are not new, but increasingly people are beginning to feel safe about living authentically. According to a recent Gallup poll, “One in six [U.S.] adults in Generation Z identifies as LGBT.” At the same time, a GLAAD report found 45% of non-LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. say they’re confused by the different number of terms to describe individuals who comprise the LGBTQ+ community.

Thanks to the efforts of queer and trans people on the forefront of the liberation movement, things are better now than they have ever been — but they are still fragile. The news media can help. Journalists can reference this tool to ensure they are using language appropriately. They can also interact with members of the community in their process. For example, if there is a story written about trans rights, VideoOut believes the writer should interview trans people, particularly ones who are active in the movement for trans rights.

The LGBTQ+ Language and Media Literacy Program is more than a glossary, though at its simplest, it can function that way. It’s a way to understand the LGBTQ+ community, and hopefully, it will transform the way journalists — and all of us — write and talk about LGBTQ+ people.