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An exploration of how heteronormative bias is deeply embedded in the internet, hidden in algorithms, keywords, content moderation, and more.
In The Digital Closet, Alexander Monea argues provocatively that the internet became straight by suppressing everything that is not, forcing LGBTQIA+ content into increasingly narrow channels—rendering it invisible through opaque algorithms, automated and human content moderation, warped keywords, and other strategies of digital overreach. Monea explains how the United States’ thirty-year “war on porn” has brought about the over-regulation of sexual content, which, in turn, has resulted in the censorship of much nonpornographic content—including material on sex education and LGBTQIA+ activism. In this wide-ranging, enlightening account, Monea examines the cultural, technological, and political conditions that put LGBTQIA+ content into the closet.
Alexander Monea is Assistant Professor serving jointly in the English Department and Cultural Studies Program at George Mason University whose research focuses on the historical and cultural impact of computation and fairness, accountability, transparency, and ethics. He is the author of The Digital Closet: How the Internet Became Straight (MIT Press) and co-author of a forthcoming book The Prisonhouse of the Circuit: A New Politics of Control (University of Minnesota Press).