Fondation Emergence flags online hate

A Chrome extension aims to once again make online hate unignorable to convince more social media users to report posts.

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In the lead-up to the Montréal Pride Festival’s annual parade, which will once again see people proudly waving rainbow-coloured flags down Boulevard René-Lévesque this Saturday, Fondation Émergence is using that as a powerful symbol to make a powerful point online.

Online homophobic and transphobic slurs are still common in 2019, so the Montreal non-profit has once again teamed up with agency partner Rethink on “Pride Flagging,” an online tool to easily find and flag cyber-homophobia and -transphobia.  

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The browser extension, designed for Google Chrome, launched on Thursday in beta and aims to be widely available online in subsequent phases. Once activated, Pride Flagging automatically finds and covers offensive words or expressions with the bright colours of the Pride Flag, while also creating a more simple and visible shortcut to report the post to the site it appears on. The tool uses a comprehensive list of more than 50 discriminatory language targeting LGBTQ+ individuals in 10 different languages.

Earlier this year, Fondation Émergence and Rethink ran an OOH campaign that took offensive and occasionally violent messages targeted at LGBTQ people online and put them into the real world to make them “unignorable.” The idea was to convince people to not just ignore hateful messages online, but to take the time to flag or report them and hopefully get them taken down.

With the new browser extension, the goal is similar. While the flag used by the extension blocks out hateful terms, it also makes the frequency at which they appear more visually apparent and “unignorable,” in the hopes that it will motivate people to report more often.

“Flagging posts still is a marginal online behaviour and we aim for more people to develop that reflex when confronted with discriminatory language,” said Laurent Breault, general manager of Fondation Émergence, in a press release. “These few clicks could make a real difference in the lives of millions of LGBTQ+ individuals and remind us [all] of the weight of our words.”

This is not the first time the non-profit organization and Rethink has used the Pride Flag to convey a serious social message. Last year. the group unveiled The Pride Shield to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.