The power of the Facebook filter

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Photo illustration

Deeply ingrained prejudices finally cleansed

March 9, 2016

By Jake Wray

Adding a filter to your Facebook profile picture could really make a difference in someone’s life. Hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people have plummeted by 82 per cent as a direct result of rainbow filters on Facebook profile pictures, according to a new study by Vancouver-based think-tank Digital Canada.

“I feel really safe now,” said Jordie Naziel, a gay, aboriginal teen in Prince George. “The rainbow filter seems to have woken people up. Before people started adding it to their profiles, I used to get my ass kicked after school all the time. Now people just smile and wave. I can’t believe no one thought of doing this sooner.”

Kelowna homophobe Tim McNeil told the Other Press that seeing rainbow profile pictures on Facebook was a life-changing moment for him.

“It’s not that I lack basic human empathy and compassion. I just didn’t understand that I needed to extend those values to gay people. All I knew is that they were different from me, which was a pretty scary thought. I lashed out,” said McNeil. “Then my aunt added the rainbow to her profile picture, and I had an epiphany. Over night, I began to understand how to show love and respect to gay people. I even stopped using homophobic slurs.

“I still fuckin’ hate immigrants, though,” he added.

Annie Park, who identifies as transgender, said she has noticed the difference that the filters have made.

“Once the rainbows popped up on Facebook, I noticed that people weren’t looking at me sideways in public anymore. I recently applied to be a server at the diner near my apartment,” said Park. “I couldn’t believe it. When I went in, the manager shook my hand, looked me in the eye, and smiled. He didn’t ask any inappropriate or demeaning questions. He hired me on the spot.”

Sharene Moretti, a gender studies professor at SFU, said the filters have fixed everything. “All across the country, gay-straight alliance groups are fading out. Social programs for LGBTQ+ youth are being cut pretty much across the board, because they’re just not necessary anymore.

“Teen suicide rates have dropped dramatically. Religious groups have opened their arms to LGBTQ+ people. Homophobia is essentially a non-issue, now. Who would have thought it would be this easy?”

Moretti also speculated on the atrocities that could have been prevented if only Facebook had become popular sooner: “If Facebook had been around in the ‘70s, Harvey Milk would still be alive.”

Article originally appeared in The Other Press

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