Criminologist and ‘digiqueer’ expert Dr. Justin Ellis finds strong correlation between social media management and the spread of anti-LGBTQI hate speech across a multitude of platforms.
The senior lecturer for the University of Newcastle sat down with the Star Observer to discuss how the corporate owners of social media platforms have allowed their sites to be “co-opted” by “conservative, Christian, and far-right groups” to add to stigma against people of different sexual orientations and genders.
“Online platforms don’t moderate hate speech quickly enough, and it creates an ecosystem of hate,” says Dr. Ellis.
“Far-right groups are able to diffuse their messages across entire social media networks before [owners] can take them down, which then gets picked up by people who want to pursue that [hate] in public”.
Real World Effects
Indeed, the spread of homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic rhetoric online has had a palpable effect on real-world anti-LGBTQI activity, where users are influenced to act by others on a global scale.
Dr. Ellis identifies the recent uptick of demonstrators picketing councils across Australia, rallying against drag events as an example of this phenomenon. “We’ve had this wave of protests against councils in Victoria, where people are crashing councils and being aggressive”.
Discussing the rise of anti-queer hatred on social media, Dr. Ellis does not put sole blame on the platform’s corporate owners but also points towards the encouragement of politicians as well.
He brings up the attitude of former US President Donald Trump and the way it inspired elected officials across the globe. “A lot of it began with this permissiveness from politicians like Trump who don’t call out hate, that glorify violence on social media,” he says.
“So, we’ve got this toxic combination of hate being amplified on social media, and it seemingly being justified under the auspices of elected leaders”.
A Community Effort
Between poor moderation and a body of leadership that encourages hate, the continued spread of anti-LGBTQI rhetoric seems insurmountable
“A report from the EU in 2022 assessed platforms addressing of online hate,” Dr. Ellis explains. “TikTok would be the only platform in 2022 that improved in addressing the timely removal of hate speech”.
This International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia is a time to acknowledge this issue and work towards its end.
“The solution is to keep calling out hate, to get to corporations, and tell our elected officials what we want,” Dr. Ellis adds.