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Popular Twitter Account Spreads Anti-LGBTQ Sentiment to US Rightwing

April 22nd, 2022 08:46

US media is report­ing on a pop­u­lar Twit­ter account that has become a “social media phe­nom­e­non” that spreads anti-LGBTQ+ sen­ti­ment and has become part of the right-wing media ecosys­tem. Accord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Post report, the for­mer­ly anony­mous Libs of Tik­Tok account is run by a real estate sales­per­son in Brooklyn:

April 19, 2022 On March 8, a Twit­ter account called Libs of Tik­Tok post­ed a video of a woman teach­ing sex edu­ca­tion to chil­dren in Ken­tucky, call­ing the woman in the video a “preda­tor.” The next evening, the same clip was fea­tured on Lau­ra Ingraham’s Fox News pro­gram, prompt­ing the host to ask, “When did our pub­lic schools, any schools, become what are essen­tial­ly groom­ing cen­ters for gen­der iden­ti­ty rad­i­cals?” Libs of Tik­Tok reposts a steady stream of Tik­Tok videos and social media posts, pri­mar­i­ly from LGBTQ+ peo­ple, often includ­ing incen­di­ary fram­ing designed to gen­er­ate out­rage. Videos shared from the account quick­ly find their way to the most influ­en­tial names in right-wing media. The account has emerged as a pow­er­ful force on the Inter­net, shap­ing right-wing media, impact­ing anti-LGBTQ+ leg­is­la­tion and influ­enc­ing mil­lions by post­ing viral videos aimed at incit­ing out­rage among the right. The anony­mous account’s impact is deep and far-reach­ing. Its con­tent is ampli­fied by high-pro­file media fig­ures, politi­cians and right-wing influ­encers. Its tweets reach mil­lions, with influ­ence spread­ing far beyond its more than 648, 000 Twit­ter fol­low­ers. Libs of Tik­Tok has become an agen­da-set­ter in right-wing online dis­course, and the con­tent it sur­faces shows a direct cor­re­la­tion with the recent push in leg­is­la­tion and rhetoric direct­ly tar­get­ing the LGBTQ+ com­mu­ni­ty. “Libs of Tik­Tok is basi­cal­ly act­ing as a wire ser­vice for the broad­er right-wing media ecosys­tem,” said Ari Dren­nen, LGBTQ pro­gram direc­tor for Media Mat­ters, the pro­gres­sive media watch­dog group. “It’s been shap­ing pub­lic pol­i­cy in a real way, and affect­ing teach­ers’ abil­i­ty to feel safe in their class­rooms.” The account has been pro­mot­ed by pod­cast host Joe Rogan, and it’s been fea­tured in the New York Post, the Fed­er­al­ist, the Post Mil­len­ni­al and a slew of oth­er right-wing news sites. Meghan McCain has retweet­ed it. The online influ­encer Glenn Green­wald has ampli­fied it to his 1. 8 mil­lion Twit­ter fol­low­ers while call­ing him­self the account’s “God­fa­ther.” Last Thurs­day, the woman behind the account appeared anony­mous­ly on Tuck­er Carlson’s show to com­plain about being tem­porar­i­ly sus­pend­ed for vio­lat­ing Twitter’s com­mu­ni­ty guide­lines. Fox News often cre­ates news pack­ages around the con­tent that Libs of Tik­Tok has surfaced.

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In Jan­u­ary, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed on the role of right-wing influ­ence net­works in the US in pro­mot­ing so-called “Crit­i­cal Race The­o­ry” as a hot-but­ton issue in US pol­i­tics. Crit­i­cal race the­o­ry is an over forty-year-old aca­d­e­m­ic con­cept that racism is a social con­struct and not mere­ly the prod­uct of indi­vid­ual bias or prej­u­dice but also some­thing embed­ded in legal sys­tems and policies.

In Feb­ru­ary, we report­ed how pro-Russ­ian sen­ti­ment is spread­ing online as an exten­sion of US “cul­ture war” politics.