facebook anti lgbtq during pride month
Andrea Austria / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

Facebook allowed dangerous anti-LGBTQ rhetoric to spread across the platform during Pride Month

Right-leaning pages have posted nearly 3,500 times about topics related to Pride in June. Left-leaning pages posted nearly 2,000 times.

During Pride Month, Facebook enabled right-wing media to amplify bigoted and dangerous lies about the LGBTQ community and Pride events — at a time when LGBTQ rights have come under assault and violent attacks on LGBTQ people are on the rise. Media Matters found that in June, right-leaning pages and users in right-wing groups circulated thousands of posts fearmongering about topics related to Pride Month, with right-leaning pages posting about the topic nearly 3,500 times and earning just under 4 million interactions.

Facebook and its parent company Meta had eagerly promoted Pride Month, adding Pride features on the platform, claiming to amplify LGBTQ creators, and reiterating the company’s supposed commitment to supporting LGBTQ people and to eliminating hate speech targeting them. But Facebook has regularly failed to remove the dangerous and dehumanizing hate speech and misinformation targeting LGBTQ people coming from right-wing outlets, figures, and groups. And this Pride Month, under Facebook’s watch, posts that amplify longstanding, baseless, and dangerous rhetoric about the LGBTQ community proliferated across the platform.

  • Right-leaning Facebook pages, led by TheBlaze, The Western Journal, and The Daily Wire, have been fearmongering about LGBTQ people and Pride events

  • For months, right-wing media and figures have been amplifying a lie accusing LGBTQ people of “grooming” children to be gay or trans or promoting sexual activity. These attacks had real-world consequences, with several Pride events receiving threats and being targeted by white nationalists in June.  

    Media Matters compiled and analyzed posts about Pride-related topics from news and politics pages and found that right-leaning pages posted at least 3,478 times about Pride in June, earning nearly 3.9 million interactions. In comparison, left-leaning pages posted roughly 1,966 times and earned 4 million interactions.

    Nearly 40% of posts about Pride from right-leaning pages came from networks of pages run by right-wing outlets TheBlaze, The Western Journal, and The Daily Wire. These three outlets operate networks of pages that regularly exploit Facebook’s algorithm to amplify right-wing narratives and talking points. Right-wing Facebook groups, including ones with tens of thousands of members, further amplify these narratives. 

    Collectively, 34 pages run by these three outlets posted at least 1,384 times about Pride-related topics, including fearmongering about Pride events, mocking or condemning companies for celebrating Pride Month, and calling for legislation to “defend kids” from LGBTQ people. These posts earned over 1 million interactions. 

    At least 365 of the related posts from these networks amplified various right-wing articles about Pride events, events with drag queens, and events that include children, often fearmongering about them. The posts earned over 125,000 interactions.

  • Collage of posts from TheBlaze network of Facebook pages, amplifying a story about a drag show for kids during Pride month
  • Western Journal drag Facebook
  • Daily Wire drag facebook
  • These networks also amplified various articles mocking or condemning companies for celebrating Pride Month, together posting such stories at least 54 times and earning at least 15,000 interactions. They also amplified articles that support proposed legislation or executive action at the state level to “defend kids” from supposedly “perverted adults” who are “obsessed with sexualizing young children.” The 78 related posts earned at least 78,000 interactions.

  • Users in right-wing Facebook groups fearmonger about LGBTQ people and Pride events

  • Media Matters also found anti-LGBTQ posts related to Pride across right-wing public and private Facebook groups. Users in these groups defended violence against LGBTQ people, made the obscene argument that kids should be taken away from parents who bring them to Pride events, and repeated tired, baseless claims that family-friendly Pride events involve “grooming” or “sexualizing” children.

  • Facebook users defend pride violence 1
  • Facebook users defend pride violence 2
  • Facebook users attack parents who bring their kids to pride 1
  • Facebook users attack parents who bring their kids to pride 2
  • Facebook users attack parents who bring their kids to pride 3
  • Facebook users claim family friendly pride events are grooming 1
  • Facebook users claim family friendly pride events are grooming 2
  • Facebook users claim family friendly pride events are grooming 3
  • Methodology

  • Using CrowdTangle, Media Matters compiled a list of 1,773 Facebook pages that frequently posted about U.S. politics from January 1 to August 25, 2020.

    For an explanation of how we compiled pages and identified them as right-leaning, left-leaning, or ideologically nonaligned, see the methodology here.

    The resulting list consisted of 771 right-leaning pages, 497 ideologically nonaligned pages, and 505 left-leaning pages.

    Every day, Media Matters also uses Facebook's CrowdTangle tool and this methodology to identify and share the 10 posts with the most interactions from top political and news-related Facebook pages.

    Using CrowdTangle, Media Matters compiled all posts for the pages on this list that were posted between June 1 and 30, 2022, and were related to Pride Month and related events. We reviewed data for these posts, including total interactions (reactions, comments, and shares).

    We defined posts as related to Pride Month if they had any of the following terms in the message or in the included link, article headline, or article description: “groomer,” “grooming,” “drag,” “drag queen,” “drag queen story hour,” “family friendly drag,” “family-friendly drag show,” “drag show,” “drag shows,” “drag queen show,” “drag queen storytime,” “drag queen story hour,” “drag queen shows,” “drag shows for minors,” “pride,” “pride parade,” “pride celebration,” “pride celebrations,” “pride event,” “pride events,” “pride night,” “trans strippers,” “trans stripper,” “dqsh,” “drag the kids to pride,” or “pride month.”