An Arabic anti-LGBTQ+ campaign is going viral on Twitter

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08/01/2022

In late June, an account launched on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Telegram called Fetrah — the Arabic word for “human instinct.” Soon after, the account posted a Twitter thread in Arabic calling on social media users to spread its message: that there are only two genders, and homosexuality is deviant and a rejection of human nature. Fetrah’s website is plastered with the words “No more LGBTQ+“ in a dozen different languages. The visual signature of the anti-LGBTQ+ campaign is simple: a rectangle with one half colored bright pink and the other half colored light blue, representing a gender binary. Since the campaign’s launch, the pink and blue rectangle has found its way onto flags, pamphlets, books, videos, memes, and infographics and has been watermarked onto profile pictures. Images including the logo are frequently posted on social media alongside one of Fetrah’s three viral hashtags. Following a series of political controversies regarding the queer community in the Middle East during international pride month, Fetrah has become a new vehicle for anti-LGBTQ+ online hate speech and harassment against the queer community. Global social media platforms have taken notably different approaches to moderating the campaign. While the primary Fetrah Facebook page was banned by Meta in early July after it generated over half a million likes, the original Fetrah Twitter account continues to operate largely unabated and has over 75,000 followers.

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