Who: Rethink and Quebec-based LGBTQ+ rights organization Fondation Émergence.
What: “Pride Flagging,” a Google Chrome extension that identifies and obscures homophobic remarks online. It’s available at PrideFlagging.com.
When & Where: The initiative is timed to coincide with this weekend’s Pride Montreal and other Pride-related events taking place across North America and the U.K. The plug-in is available worldwide.
Why: Online homophobia is an ongoing problem, particularly across social media, with Fondation Émergence reporting that a homophobic remark is posted online every 23 seconds. The organization’s goal is to reduce online hate speech by 20% in the upcoming months.
It’s part of a broader effort to curb online toxicity, which includes the federal government’s plan to introduce a digital charter to combat online hate speech. Fondation Émergence says the Pride Flagging tool will act as a “citizen first line measure” until the government introduces the charter.
How: The Pride Flagging plug-in recognizes more than 50 words in 10 languages that are slurs against the LGBTQ+ community. The tool covers up the offending words with the Pride Rainbow Flag, and users are presented with the option to report the offending remark. “There’s a fine line between censorship and moderation, and we want to let the user decide if it’s appropriate or inappropriate language,” says Rethink’s creative director, Xavier Blais.
Currently in beta, the Google Chrome extension works only with Twitter, although the plan is to extend its capabilities across other social networking sites “really soon,” says Blais.
Why Twitter: “It feels like Twitter is still the wild west of the web,” says Blais. “It’s still a platform that doesn’t moderate itself or take moderation very seriously, so it felt like a good first place.”
Another Chrome extension for good: Earlier this year, IAB Canada and BIMM launched an extension called AutoCorrectHER, which identified gender-biased language such as “bossy” and “moody” in e-mails and offered up alternatives.
And we quote: “Flagging still is [an uncommon] online behaviour, and we aim for more people to develop that reflex when confronted with discriminatory language. These few clicks could make a real difference in the lives of millions of LGBTQ+ individuals and remind us of the weight of our words.”—Laurent Breault, general manager of the Fondation Émergence.