Social Media’s Role In Amplifying Dangerous Lies About LGBTQ+ People
1 August 2022
This study, carried out by the Center for Countering Digital Hate in collaboration with the Human Rights Campaign, analyzes how social media posts have created a cascade of online hate, underpinned by dangerous misinformation and outright lies against the LGBTQ+ community. CCDH researchers analyzed discourse and hateful rhetoric targeting LGBTQ+ people on Twitter, finding an alarming and intense increase in recent months. This wave of hate has centered around the false and baseless lie that LGBTQ+ people ‘groom’ children. This, we know, has driven offline hate crimes. A drag queen in the Bay Area was attacked by the Proud Boys this June, with the far-right extremists using the same hateful slurs identified in this report. 1 This abuse, like the attempted white supremacist attack on a Pride parade in Idaho and incidents involving Neo-Nazis in Florida, did not happen in isolation: extremist rhetoric and attacks against LGBTQ+ people have ramped up online and offline in recent months. Through an over-time analysis, which quantifies tweets containing slurs like ‘groomers’ or ‘pedophiles’ in the context of conversations about LGBTQ+ people between January and July of 2022, CCDH researchers found that the volume of tweets engaging in ‘grooming’ discourse increased by 406% in the month following the passage of the ‘Don’t Say Gay or Trans’ bill in Florida. Further, we estimate that the 500 most-viewed tweets that advance the false ‘grooming’ narrative were viewed at least 72 million times. Given that these slurs clearly violate Twitter’s ‘Hateful Conduct’ policy, which prohibits attacks or threats against people based on their sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity, it is appalling that Twitter failed to act on 99% of the 100 most-viewed hateful tweets identified in this report when our researchers anonymously reported them using the platform’s reporting tools.