The Anti-Gender Debate on Social Media

The Anti-Gender Debate on Social Media. A Computational Communication Science Analysis of Networks, Activism, and Misinformation takes into account 10 years of anti-gender communication on Facebook in Italy, and proposes a multifaceted analysis of different aspects of the debate, including activism and misinformation.

It shows that both right-wing/populists/religious and pro-LGBTQI+ actors were involved in the debate, but the former got more engagement. Notably, religious accounts got even more engagement than the right-wing ones. Also, posts from left-wing parties’ accounts were just a few.

The most engaging posts against Gender came from Radio Maria, a popular (and sometimes controversial) catholic radio, and the conversations peaked in 2015, close to the conservative manifestation “Family Day”, but religious actors have kept paying attention to the issue. 

Time series analysis suggested that Facebook posts mostly amplified an agenda set by news media following offline events. Similarly, Facebook has been used to amplify “traditional” types of activism, like petitions “against gender”.

However, an analysis through CooRnet also revealed the presence of coordinated Facebook networks spreading news stories on gender ideology, also coming from websites renowned for spreading misinformation and low-quality, click-bait news stories. 

Still on the subject of misinformation, the analysis shows that 2% of the about 20,000 analyzed Facebook posts associated LGBTQI+ people and organizations with paedophilia by means of “gender ideology”.