Have you wondered how powerful figures keep the intimate details of their private lives, well, private? Confidentiality agreements and gag orders aren't entirely new, but in the age of cyberbullying and instant sharing, a sophisticated digital update is required not only for the rich and famous, but everyone.
PlayNice is the first platform legally protecting people from cyberbullying. For a little over $2, users sign an agreement with each other that is legally binding. In it, both parties promise never to harm each other online -- whether it's in the form of revenge porn, revealing trusted secrets, outing people in the LGBTQ+ community, or intentionally starting rumors with the purpose of harming one's reputation. A party who violates the agreement can be held legally responsible through arbitration.
Creator Eric Masella says his site is geared toward low-income and marginalized communities because they're often left vulnerable to cyberbullying. LGBTQ+ youth, for example, are more likely than their straight counterparts to have damaging rumors spread about them online and more likely to experience an internet mob attack based on such rumors, according to PlayNice's research.
The idea around PlayNice started when Masella was living in Los Angeles and discovered that many celebrities had a team of lawyers to draft one-sided nondisclosure agreements, which they would give to people before they attended private parties. Of course, the logistics behind the concept cost money. Masella decided to create a platform that would make confidentiality agreements not only accessible but also affordable to the average person, using his own experience of being cyberbullied by an ex as the catalyst.
"This ex decided to, in a very vulgar way, harm me online," he tells Out. "It was very deliberate, It was finally removed after a bunch of lawsuits, but I talked to judges, I talked to lawyers, and they all said the same thing: 'There's nothing you can do.'"
After selling his apartment in New York City's Tribeca neighborhood to offset the cost of hiring a legal team to create what is now the Play-Nice agreement -- including one of the women who co-wrote the revenge porn law in New York state -- Masella was able to create a user -friendly platform available to anyone.
To access the service, users visit PlayNiceApp.com and click "Create an Agreement." They're walked through noninvasive steps to draft the agreement and then sign and click a button to send to the other party. Once they countersign, both parties have access to the agreement, ensuring both are protected. The $2 fee is waived for those under the age of 18.
Masella's long-term plans include integrating the agreement across dating platforms like Grindr and Tinder.
"I look at it as, like, you can breathe. You can finally experience relationships on your terms," he says. "You might have things you don't want to share, that are not available for public consumption. You're not ready yet. And this protects that."
A version of this story first appeared in Out's 2021 Hollywood Issue. Jake Borelli is featured on the cover alongside Ryan O'Connell and Alexandra Grey. It is the first print issue under the editorial direction of editor-in-chief David Artavia. The issue is out on newsstands on March 3, 2021. To get your own copy directly, support queer media and subscribe -- or download yours for Amazon, Kindle, Nook, or Apple News +.