anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, misinformation flourishes on social media – The Hill

The story at a glance


  • Anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and misinformation have exploded on social media platforms including Twitter and Facebook this year, according to a new report from the Human Rights Campaign and the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

  • The increase followed the introduction of laws in state houses across the country that threaten the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans.

  • According to Wednesday’s report, Twitter and Facebook failed to properly enforce their security policies — with real-world consequences.

This year, inflammatory and discriminatory language targeting LGBTQ+ people has emerged on social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, propagating harmful stereotypes and inciting violence in real life.

The rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hate speech online coincides with one of the worst legislative years for LGBTQ+ rights in recent history, according to a report released Wednesday by the Human Rights Campaign (HR), one of the largest leading LGBTQ+ rights groups in the country, and the Center Against Digital Hate (CCHR).

Hundreds of bills targeting LGBTQ+ people have been introduced in state legislatures this year, and more than a dozen have become law.

In the month since Florida passed an education law banning teachers from engaging in classroom instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity — a law known to its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” law – the volume of content on Twitter that LGBTQ+ people accused of “grooming” children has increased dramatically – to an average of more than 6,000 tweets a day, against just over 1,000 the previous month.


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According to Wednesday’s report, most of the “grooming” rhetoric being circulated online has only been propagated by a small handful of accounts. More than 65% of the traffic for the top 500 tweets comparing LGBTQ+ people to “groomers” or “pedophiles” was generated by just 10 people, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Lauren Boebert (R -Colo .), author James Lindsay and Christina Pushaw, press secretary for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R).

The top 500 “grooming” tweets have been viewed more than 72 million times, according to the report. CCHR researchers said they anonymously reported the 100 most-viewed tweets to Twitter, which took no action on 99% of them.

According to Twitter hateful conduct policy, users are prohibited from instilling fear or spreading harmful stereotypes about a protected class, including sexual orientation, sex and gender identity. The misapplication of this policy has allowed “fringe ideologies to burst into the mainstream,” researchers wrote on Wednesday.

“As social media platforms fail to enforce their own standards — allowing a wave of online anti-LGBTQ+ hate to grow unchecked — extremists wield a dangerous influence,” the acting chairman of the board said. HRC, Joni Madison, in a statement. She accused right-wing politicians of intentionally inciting hatred against LGBTQ+ people on social media to “mobilize their base” ahead of midterm elections in November.

“But the rise of this online vitriol doesn’t just have political implications,” Madison said. “There are deadly consequences in the real world, as violent rhetoric leads to stigma, radicalization and, ultimately, violence.”

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in 2020 – the most recent year for which data is available – nearly 20% of hate crimes committed were motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias, and 2020 and 2021 were peak years. for violence against transgender and gender nonconforming people in the United States, with dozens of deaths recorded by the HRC.

In June, the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED) project found that anti-LGBTQ+ mobilization in the United States – including protests and political violence – was four times higher in 2021 than in 2020. A new escalation is expected this year.

Wednesday’s report also found that Facebook’s parent company, Meta, between January and July, removed only one of 59 known ads promoting the anti-LGBTQ+ “grooming” narrative despite a policy banning ads. hate speech. These ads have been viewed more than 2.1 million times, according to the report.

Social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, have long been recognized by members of the LGBTQ+ community as sites that marginally enforce their safety policies.

“Facebook and Twitter are both known for algorithmically amplifying hate and failing to act on abuse,

inauthentic behavior and content that violates their policies,” CCDH Director General Imran Ahmed wrote in the introduction to the report.

In July, an annual report by LGBTQ+ media advocacy group GLAAD found that 84% of LGBTQ+ adults believe social media platforms have taken insufficient steps to protect them from discrimination or harassment online and have failed to do so. is doing enough to combat the spread of LGBTQ+ misinformation.

40% of LGBTQ+ adults, including nearly half of transgender and non-binary people who use social media, said they did not feel welcome or safe online. Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok received failing “grades” from GLAAD, which looked at metrics related to security, privacy, and voice. LGBTQ+.

No platform reviewed by the group received a score higher than 50 out of a possible 100.

Posted on August 10, 2022

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