A new report from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has found that online anti-LGBTQ hate has surged over 400 percent following the passage of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.
Researchers collected a sample of 989,547 tweets posted between January 1 and July 27 that mentioned the LGBTQ community alongside inflammatory language like “groomer” and “pedophile.” The report revealed that the average number of tweets per day suggesting that LGBTQ people are “groomers,” “predators,” and “pedophiles” increased by 406 percent in the month after the bill, which prohibits discussion about sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida public primary schools, was passed. Results concluded that an average of 6,607 tweets everyday used this language in the month that followed the bill passing, an increase from 1,307 tweets the month before. There was also an increase in the use of the hashtag #OKGroomer to insult queer educators, advocates, organizations, and more.
This anti-LGBTQ content was found to be driven largely by a small group of extremist politicians and pro-Trump activists. Just ten people drove 66 percent of impressions for the 500 most-viewed “grooming” tweets, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s press secretary Christina Pushaw, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert. Posts from these ten people reached more than 48 million views.
The report further found that these high levels of visibility were a result of Twitter failing to enforce its policies banning anti-LGBTQ language. Despite “grooming” slurs being confirmed by Twitter as against their hate speech policies, Twitter failed to act on 99 percent of the 100 tweets reported to them anonymously by The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) researchers.
“As social media platforms fail to enforce their own standards — enabling a wave of online anti-LGBTQ+ hate to grow without restraint — extremists are wielding dangerous influence, seeking to radicalize Americans, incite hate against LGBTQ+ people, and mobilize the extremists within their base ahead of the midterm elections,” said HRC Interim President Joni Madison. “But the rise of this online vitriol doesn’t just have political implications — there are deadly, real-world consequences as violent rhetoric leads to stigma, radicalization, and ultimately violence. Nearly one-in-five of any type of hate crime is now motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias, and the last two years have been the deadliest for transgender people, particularly Black transgender women. HRC, along with our partners at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, urgently calls on social media companies to act swiftly and transparently to stop the spread of extremist and hateful misinformation, including the grooming narrative.”
Read the full report here.