Surveillance Titan Peter Thiel Invests Millions in New Anti-Feminist Menstrual Tracking App

I'm seeing nothing but red flags in this whole venture.

Surveillance Titan Peter Thiel Invests Millions in New Anti-Feminist Menstrual Tracking App
Photo:Marco Bello (Getty Images)

It’s a pretty suspicious time to start a menstrual cycle tracking app, with Roe v. Wade reversed and a new study revealing that such apps tend to leak people’s data! Nonetheless, Evie—the conservative women’s magazine that insists women shouldn’t “exercise like men”, maligns birth control as unsafe, and has argued that feminism is a grift that’s ruined women’s lives—has entered the chat.

Last week, Evie announced the launch of “28,” an eyebrow-raising, so-called “femtech company” that will give women personalized advice about fitness and nutrition that aligns with their self-reported menstrual cycle. And on Monday, Vice reported that billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel invested $3.2 million in it. As a quick refresher, Thiel’s more recent investments have included pouring tens of millions into Trump-backed, far-right political candidates.

If a period tracking app from a women’s magazine that grounds itself in conservative, anti-trans definitions of womanhood didn’t raise enough alarms for me, Thiel’s involvement is a pretty big red flag on its own. Thiel, you’ll recall, is the founder of Palantir—a highly secretive software company that’s played a significant role in helping the National Security Agency spy on all of us. His involvement in Evie’s 28 isn’t tangential, either: Gabriel Hugoboom, the husband of Evie Magazine’s TikTok influencer founder Brittany Hugoboom (she goes by Brittany Martinez in bylines on Evie), reportedly gave Thiel—not just his company Thiel Capital—a personal shoutout in an Instagram post announcing 28, before appearing to make his account private:

“Peter was Facebook’s first investor, founded PayPal, and his fund is one of the great American venture capital firms that has funded many of the world’s most successful companies, like SpaceX. It’s wild that he is now our lead investor at 28, the femtech company my wife and I started and have been working on for the past few years.”

I’m hardly reassured by 28’s privacy policy, which explicitly states that it will turn over user data collected by the app to police in response to a “court order, law or legal process.” Nor are my concerns soothed by Evie’s announcement of 28, which says that its “software relies on user input in order to track their cycle” and that “data is then stored and moved behind secure storage methods and transfer protocols,” without specifying what any of these methods or technologies are.

You probably wouldn’t be all that surprised to learn that—coming from a magazine that peddles anti-vax myths—28’s entire premise is basically rooted in pseudoscience. Evie claims that different stages in the menstrual cycle require different types of exercise. There’s no science to support this. And I don’t find a magazine that, again, shames women who “exercise like men” to be particularly credible about fitness and wellness in general, thank you very much. Evie itself is obsessed with “natural family planning,” the oft-touted conservative “alternative” to hormonal birth control and abortion.

News that 28 is bankrolled by a top MAGA donor and titan of the digital surveillance industry comes a week after the Federal Trade Commission filed the first major lawsuit against a data broker for allegedly collecting and selling private user data. This data, the FTC argued, could possibly expose users’ abortions, pregnancy outcomes, substance use, or other highly sensitive aspects of their lives to law enforcement or abusive partners. Democrats in Congress are currently pressuring tech companies and data brokers to cease collecting pregnant people’s data during these post-Roe times for a reason.

In July, Politico reported the majority of law enforcement warrants for users’ location data that Google received in 2020 came from states that have since banned abortion. Just last month, Meta gave police a Nebraska teen’s texts about having a self-managed abortion, resulting in her arrest, while also reportedly sharing abortion-seeking users’ data with anti-abortion organizations. In recent years, criminal charges for pregnancy outcomes have tripled, and increased digital surveillance mechanisms have certainly contributed to this.

No pregnancy loss is above suspicion of being an abortion in post-Roe America. So, you’ll forgive me if I have my doubts about a period tracking app personally backed by Peter Thiel, and launched by a women’s magazine that’s called abortion “anti-woman.”

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