Monday, June 5, 2023

Anti-LGBTQ hate flourishes online, fueling fears of more violence

But the tone on some online message boards and platforms was celebratory. “I love waking up to good news,” wrote a user on Gab, a forum popular with far-right groups. Other users on the site called for more violence.

The hate isn’t confined to fringe sites.

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Jay Brown, senior vice president of the Human Rights Campaign and a transgender man, said, “I don’t think people understand the danger we’re living in right now.” “A lot is happening online, and threats online are turning into threats of real violence offline.”

In Tennessee, masked members of a white supremacist group recently appeared at a holiday charity event at a bookstore as the evening’s entertainment included a drag performer. An upcoming holiday party scheduled for Friday at the adults-only gay nightclub was also the subject of threats. Party theme? Ugly Christmas sweater.

“And they are still coming after us? This is straight-up bigotry and hate at this point,” said Jessica Patterson, one of the organizers of the event, who added that groups calling for violence against LGBTQ groups often Other fanatics also support.”All they have to do is hate someone.”

Transphobic content targeting events such as Patterson’s is a subset of hateful content about Jews, Muslims, women, black people, Asians and others, which has attracted internet safety advocates and a growing number of lawmakers in the United States and elsewhere. Insisting on strict rules. Which will force tech companies to do more.

There is no simple explanation for the increase in hate speech documented by researchers in recent years. Socio-economic tensions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, increase in political polarization and resurgence of far-right movements have been blamed. So have politicians like Donald Trump, whose brutal use of social media has turned extremists online.

“I have been tracking hate-mongering extremist communities for more than 25 years, but I have never seen the hate speech – let alone the calls for violence that they spark – reach the volumes they have now,” wrote extremism researcher Rita Katz in an email to The Associated Press.

Katz is co-founder of the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors far-right Internet sites and has identified dozens of threats against LGBTQ groups and events in the US in recent months. SITE released a bulletin Thursday detailing death threats against drag performers after the White House signed the Respect for Marriage Act into the bill.

Researchers from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a nonprofit with offices in the US and the United Kingdom, studied the social media messages that spread in the immediate aftermath of the Colorado Springs shooting in November and many of the far-right Trump supporters celebrating the massacre. Find examples. Users who did not praise the shooting often claimed that it was faked by the authorities and the media as a way to make conservatives look bad.

Despite rules prohibiting hate speech or violent threats, platforms such as Facebook and YouTube have struggled to identify and remove such content. In some cases, this is because people use coded language designed to avoid automatic content moderation.

Then there’s Twitter, which saw a rise in racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic content following its purchase by self-described free speech absolutist Elon Musk. Musk himself posted a tweet last week mocking transgender pronouns, as well as another misleadingly suggesting that Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, supports the inclusion of children in gay dating apps. did.

Roth, who is gay, went into hiding after receiving a flurry of threats following Musk’s tweet.

“He (Musk) didn’t use the word ‘groomer,’ but the subtext of his tweet is that Joel Roth is a groomer,” said Bhaskar Chakraborty, dean of global business at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. The “Musk Monitor” monitors hate speech on the site.

“If the owners of Twitter themselves are pushing false and hateful content against their former head of security, what can we expect from the platform?” Chakraborty said.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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