Media & Communications Manager
Roz manages the media and communications activities for the OII, job-sharing with Sara Spinks.
This Pride month we spoke to Egerton Neto, Programme Manager for the Programme on Democracy and Technology, misinformation expert and advocate for LGBTI+ rights to better understand how misinformation is affecting the LGBTI+ Community.
How is misinformation impacting the LGBTI+ community?
This story goes a long way into the past. You can trace misinformation about LGBTI+ communities right back to the beginnings of the LGBTI+ movement. Whether it was about the HIV crisis in the 1990’s or the fear strategies of the 1950’s. Recently we have been seeing a lot of misinformation about the queer community used in electoral cycles, to influence elections.
We’ve seen this in Brazil, the US, Uganda, Ghana and Europe as well. There is a wave of misinformation about the community to motivate fear of the queer community because this results in votes for certain politicians. This in turn results in damaging policies if these politicians are successful. In Brazil, after the last president won the election, when he was in office, he ended certain structures of protection for LGBTI+ people and in the US we see anti-trans Bills coming through.
How is that misinformation being spread?
The mechanism for the spread of misinformation depends on the context. In Brazil, WhatsApp is the largest platform and therefore the predominant place for spreaders of misinformation to operate. In other countries, it is official government communications spreading misinformation about the queer community. Government-led misinformation is a much broader concern, especially in the Global South.
What can be done to prevent the spread of misinformation?
Misinformation is an existential crisis for the whole of society, the discussions and solutions for the misinformation crisis broadly speaking include digital literacy and content labelling. It’s important to be aware that certain groups are more targeted than others and this point is being missed, not only queer people but different racial groups and women, who are more frequently the victims of misinformation tactics.
What can individuals do to tackle misinformation?
On an individual level, the best thing I could recommend is to simply talk to people who don’t think like us, who have been influenced by misinformation. I’ve been doing that with my grandmother for instance, I call her, we discuss the news and I slowly counter-argument misinformation she has been receiving. I wish more people would be comfortable doing this on a personal level, discussing politics with their families and loved ones who have been hijacked by misinformation tactics or extreme politics.