Pride Under Attack” is a series of research investigations carried out by Univision’s elDetector, Lupa, Data Crítica, and DDIA, with support from the Consortium to Support Regional Journalism in Latin America (CAPIR) led by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). This article was also published in Spanish and in Portuguese.

Article 1 of 4 - May 14, 2024

Two expressions used in the Americas, especially among religious and conservative populations, are circulating on social media, accompanying a series of misinformation narratives aimed at attacking the LGBTQ+ community.

In this article, the first in the series "Pride Under Attack," conducted over the past eight months by an alliance between Univision’s elDetector, Lupa, Data Crítica, and, for the last few months, the Digital Democracy Institute of the Americas (DDIA), brings to light data and concrete examples of how the expressions "traditional family" and "original family design" have been appropriated by ultra-religious movements and highly polarized entities across the Western Hemisphere to promote hate-fueled narratives targeting gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals, among others.

These two expressions used in religious circles often appear in online publications that, without providing any verifiable data or facts, amplify the conspiracy theory that LGBTQ+ individuals have joined forces to attack – and even put an end to – the so-called traditional family, composed of a cisgender [identifying with their biological sex] heterosexual man and woman.

As noted by the respected Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, the LGBTQ+ movement "advocates for equal rights" for LGTBQ+ communities. The movement for LGTBQ+ rights does not exist to attack heterosexuals or modify their lifestyle. 

On social media, however, posts mentioning the "traditional family" or the "original family design" are often accompanied by images suggesting that LGBTQ+ individuals are a danger – especially to children – and that they are aligned with political parties, NGOs, schools, and even Hollywood to defeat the lifestyle, as they claim, proposed by God.

This analysis of Facebook posts about the "traditional family" and the "original family design" reveals stories that demonstrate not only the construction of deceptive, conspiratorial, and hateful narratives but also how these circulate throughout the Americas, surpassing geographical and linguistic barriers, and also ignoring laws that guarantee the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals and a series of community guidelines established by technology companies in their terms of use.

One Post, 15 Countries, 48 Hours

A look at the Facebook page ‘Cristiano Conservador’ provides a clear example of how anti-LGBTQ+ posts can circulate between languages and countries.

At 1:19 p.m. EST on July 20, 2023, that page, which had more than 217,000 followers (now 243,000), joined the wave of attacks forming on Facebook against the then recently released Barbie movie. "[Hollywood is a] den of thieves and den of pedophiles," the U.S.-based page administrator shot out in Spanish. 

The claim was accompanied by a list that purportedly summarized everything the page owner believed he had observed as problematic in that film.

"The message of Barbie:

- Men are useless.

- The traditional family is irrelevant.

- What makes a woman a woman is her physical beauty.

- Anyone can be a Barbie, even a man ('Doctor Barbie' is trans).

- The future is feminist and sexually diverse; women are in charge, men submit.

≥ Key slogan: 'She is everything; He is just Ken', which is a euphemism for 'he is only good for sex'," the post reads in Spanish.

The Cristiano Conservador post was  just one of many (complete base in .csv format) posts analyzed for this report that spread online when the movie was released. 

Data extracted from CrowdTangle (Meta's tool that allows for analysis of posts made on Facebook) show that this publication not only generated a large number of reactions but was also widely shared in Portuguese and English across the Americas, sparking a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ reactions.

Forty-eight hours after Cristiano Conservador posted about Barbie, the post had been translated and disseminated across 15 countries in the Americas. At least 172 actors had shared Cristiano Conservador's message on their own pages and managed to garner more than 225,000 interactions between all 172 posts. According to CrowdTangle data, this content could have been seen by nearly 33 million Facebook users in just two days.

Whether by copying and pasting or simply by clicking the share button offered by the platform, pages and profiles that saw Barbie as an attack on the "traditional family" sprang into action.

The material reached Facebook in Brazil, for example, through the account Na igreja. With over 500,000 followers, the page shares at least two points in common with Cristiano Conservador: both have a clear connection to religion (and its values) and are managed from the United States. After its publication, another 23 pages posting content in Portuguese also amplified the content coming from Cristiano Conservador.

In English, the post began to spread from the St. Francis Of Assisi Peace, another religion-centered page managed in the United States. After that, at least six other pages amplified the same material for other audiences who usually engage with content in English.

Platform Action

On July 22, 2023, two days after the post was published by Cristiano Conservador, Facebook removed the piece of content, perhaps for its discriminatory tone or the accusation of pedophilia it rendered, without evidence, against Hollywood. In its community rules, Meta explicitly prohibits the posting of hate speech on the platform, including attacks on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity.

The specific reasoning behind platforms’ decisions to remove content are not usually made public, and platforms prefer not to comment on these decisions. 

In this case, Cristiano Conservador informed its followers they had appealed the decision to Facebook, using the online systems the platform offers. 

Apparently, upon further review of its take-down of Cristiano Conservador's post, Meta reconsidered its decision, and re-instated the post, a decision that could be seen to contradict the company’s terms against hate and discrimination.

The consortium of investigators who conducted this research contacted both Meta and Cristiano Conservador to comment on the issue.

Via email, a Meta spokesperson said the following:

"Meta does not allow hate speech on its platforms, and Community Standards prohibit any content that attacks people based on their characteristics. This includes ethnicity, nationality, religion or sexual orientation, social class, gender, gender identity, illness, or disability. We review content through a combination of Artificial Intelligence technology and human teams. We also encourage people to report content and accounts they believe violate our policies through the tools available within the apps themselves."

What is Said About "The Traditional Family"

The group of organizations of which DDIA was a part for this project collected and analyzed data from February 2023 to January 2024: Facebook posts dealing with the "traditional family" and the "original family design."

The team collected 11,787 posts disseminated between February 2023 and January 2024 mentioning these expressions (in Spanish, English, and Portuguese), whether to defend these concepts or to criticize them. The goal of the analysis was to study whether and how  expressions commonly used by religious or conservative groups have been co-opted and used by the anti-LGBTQ+ movement and how widespread the use of such terms is on major social media platforms. 

In the over 11,000 posts analyzed, researchers noted references to the Bible; criticisms of sex education in schools; debates on bills that pertain to the "traditional family;" and  attacks on brands, products, and services that have taken actions to support or strengthen representation of the LGBTQ+ community.

Among the messages collected, researchers identified misinformation and a large number of hate-filled messages, including.clearly false, exaggerated, or out-of-context materials. Many such images, videos, and texts have already been widely classified as false or misleading by the international community of professional fact-checkers, and yet continue to circulate online.

According to the Strategy and Action Plan of the United Nations Organization for the fight Against Hate Speech, “hate speech” is defined as "any type of communication, whether oral or written, —or also behavior—, that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language in reference to a person or group based on what they are, in other words, based on their religion, ethnicity, nationality, race, color, ancestry, gender or other forms of identity."

The Participation of “Blogs and Pages” Framed as Media

In the 12 months analyzed in this study, conversations about the so-called "traditional family" composed of a man, a woman, and their children generated an average of 32 posts per day in the three languages analyzed. This would be an average of more than one post per hour. More than 6,100 unique Facebook pages were involved in the conversation. Public data indicate that these are managed from at least 56 countries and that they garnered almost 531 million interactions with material mentioning the "traditional family."

A detailed analysis of the types of pages reveals a substantial difference in what happens in Spanish, English, and Portuguese. In Portuguese, the topic is mainly spread through pages of politicians, political parties, and political organizations and even candidates for elected Positions; in English, in spaces connected to religion; in Spanish, the dissemination of content gains strength through accounts registered on Facebook as media.

Of the 5,682 pieces of content analyzed in Spanish, almost 16% come from pages that promise to deliver news or analysis – a significant percentage considering that there are more than 270 categories available in the Meta system. Among those spaces that claim to be informative are not big names in traditional Spanish press. What is seen is a series of very partisan and religious blogs and pages.

The number of posts mentioning the "traditional family" or the "original family design" to spread misinformation and hatred has been so large in the analyzed period that it also caught the attention of entities fighting for the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals.

In mid-March, for example, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) published a report, which was echoed by The Washington Post, indicating that Meta (owner, among other social networks, of Facebook) fails in its attempt to address hatred towards transgender individuals.

In the document, GLAAD  gathers dozens of examples of posts (which are also in the consortium's database) that promote  hate rhetoric targeting the LGTBQ+ community. After the posts were reported using Meta's mechanisms, the company —according to GLAAD in its report— in some cases responded that they did not violate its policy or simply took no action. 

Among the posts made by defenders of the "traditional family" on Facebook during the twelve months analyzed, researchers also saw content that "explains" the colors of the LGBTQ+ flag in an evidently wrong way, associating them with Satan, sodomy, and sexual mutilation. In this link, it is specified where they come from and what each of the colors of the rainbow flag means.

There are also posts that amplify the conspiracy theory that the United Nations (UN) seeks to implement, through Agenda 2030, "a world government," which is "sowing in children this [gender] ideology so that future generations see it as normal to have a same-sex partner," in order to achieve the "depopulation goal" and in its attempt to "gradually legalize pedophilia." None of this is true. (See here, here, here, and here examples of fact-checks already published).

Explicit and implicit accusations that LGBTQ+ individuals want to corrupt children are constant. Spreaders use hashtags like #LuchaContraLaMafiaPedófila or #fConMisHijosNoTeMetas and talk about an imaginary "normalization of pedophilia", without presenting any data.

The research also found dozens of posts that seem to connect the narratives circulating in the Americas with Russia. In the database extracted from CrowdTangle, there are posts that applaud the policies that Russia has adopted against the LGBTQ+ community. There are praises, for example, for a law that prohibits sex change in Russia and a text – replicated by at least eight Facebook pages capable of reaching nearly 16 million users – that celebrates the fact that President Vladimir Putin has declared the LGBTQ+ movement as "an extremist organization." These posts defend and name the "traditional family."

Cristina Tardáguila is the founder of Lupa, a columnist for elDetector, and a consultant for

**Methodology used in CrowdTangle:

Search terms in three languages:

- "Original design" / "Desenho original" / "Original design"

- "Traditional family" / "Família tradicional" / "Traditional family"

- "Natural family" / "Família natural"

Universe: Facebook (groups, pages, and profiles)

Period: February 1, 2023 - February 1, 2024

Data cleaning and manipulation through Google Spreadsheet and Open Refine.