An examination of social media as a platform for cyber-violence against the LGBT+ population

15 Apr 2021

The popularity of social media raises concerns related to cyber-violence and the security of marginalised individuals and groups, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) population. Developing worthy interventions requires exploration of the LGBT+ population’s experiences of cyber-violence in relation to gender discrimination, which was the aim of this study. A qualitative approach sourced data between 2017 and 2019 from LGBT+ Facebook groups and pages and semi-structured interviews with participants who identified themselves as among the LGBT+ population. Keywords such as LGBT+, homosexuals, and isiZulu terms such as ‘izitabane’ and ‘inkonkoni’ were used to search for content. It was found that Facebook is used as a platform by heterosexuals to make violent and hateful comments against the LBGT+ population. Comments displayed to the public (including, for example, “gays are dogs, they can never transform to being women”) reflected heteronormative behaviour. A significant finding was the infiltration of heterosexual individuals into the space created by the LGBT+ population, suggesting an increased risk of cyber-violence, and that the right to privacy and security is often compromised. Addressing cyberbullying of the LGBT+ population through education on gender diversity is recommended.