Facebook gets backlash for rainbow profile pic tool

Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – @BednarChuck

To mark the US Supreme Court’s landmark ruling legalizing gay marriage, Facebook rolled out a photo filter that turned users’ profile pictures rainbow-colored, and while the tool was popular amongst users for the most part, not everyone was supportive of the gesture.

According to BBC News, the filter let to a backlash in Russia, where providing people under the age of 18 with information about homosexuality is illegal, and where more than 80 percent of the residents reportedly said that they opposed legalizing same-sex marriage in a recent poll.

In response, several filters were released in that country which used the colors of national flags to alter profile pictures rather than using the rainbow colors, they added. One of those apps had more than 4,000 downloads, and one user called it “our response to the rainbow world.”

Backlash in Russia, the Middle East

Similarly, in the Middle East, several social media users expressed their disapproval of the rainbow flag app. Egyptian Twitter user Sharif Najm said it was “a message that it hurts me,” while Syria’s Rami Isa tweeted, “Damn you and your marriage. You have distorted our innocent childhood [symbol], we used to like the rainbow,” according to BBC News.

Ahmad Abd-Rabbuh, an Egyptian political science professor, said gay marriage was “not in harmony with society and culture. I know that I will make many of my friends angry.” Roughly 2,000 tweets originating from Egypt mentioned the rainbow flag, most of them negative. A few even (jokingly?) blamed a weekend storm on the use of the multi-colored filter.

BBC News pointed out that not all people living in those parts of the world were negative about the use of the filter and the SCOTUS gay-marriage decision as a whole. Anna Koterlnikova of Russia changed her profile pic to a rainbow flag and said that she was “straight and Russian but I’m not a homophobe,” and Egyptian television personality Muna Iraqi said that he supported a person’s right “to live and love freely, without any persecution.”

The lack of an international consensus should be no surprise, the UK media outlet noted, as not even those living in the US are uniform in their support of same-sex marriage. In fact, one recent Pew Research Center poll revealed that about two-fifths of all Americans oppose it.


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