Facebook and Instagram add new features for Mardi Gras

Facebook and Instagram will launch a whole range of new features to their platforms today to allow Australians to celebrate their Pride during the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Facebook and Instagram’s Your Voice Matters campaign aims to celebrate LGBTQ+ stories and communities, empowering queer expression, and fostering safety across the platforms. Instagram will also return to the Mardi Gras parade in 2020.

After the overwhelming popularity of rainbow hashtags, launched for Mardi Gras last year, Instagram is bringing this Pride feature back to the platform for all Australians. They’ve identified over 50 LGBTQ+ hashtags in collaboration with Sydney Mardi Gras and ACON—including #MardiGras2020, #WhatMatters, and #LoveWins—and when you use any of them in your caption they’ll appear as an unmissable rainbow gradient.

For the first time, Instagram are also bringing the rainbow to Instagram Stories. When you use any of the LGBTQ+ hashtags in a Stories post, your story ring will turn rainbow while the photo or video is live for 24 hours.

On Facebook they’re launching a special Mardi Gras animation, exclusively in Australia, which will play every time someone shares ‘Happy Mardi Gras’ in a post.

This new animation features a rainbow heart to represent the LGBTQ+ community, and a celebration of the flags and icons that are unique to Sydney Mardi Gras. You will see the animation when you make a post that includes ’Happy Mardi Gras’, and you can tap the highlighted phrase and play the animations as many times as you like. You can also tap others posts that include the phrase and play their animations, even if you don’t make your own.

Mia Garlick, Head of Policy at Facebook Australia said supporting the LGBTIQ+ community was important to the company.

“We’re celebrating the vibrant LGBTQ+ communities that call Facebook and Instagram home, and who use our platforms everyday to connect with their communities and support one another,” Garlick said. “As part of our ongoing partnership with Sydney Mardi Gras, we’re launching our “Your Voice Matters” campaign to empower LGBTQ+ expression, highlight the inspiring stories of our local community, and foster safety across the platform.”

The company is also collaborating with ACON and Trans Pride Australia to a guide to online well-being and safety. Safe and Strong: An LGBTQ+ Guide to Facebook and Instagram launches today on ACON’s website, and is designed to showcase the safety features across the platform to protect and support people that may be the most vulnerable on social media platforms.

Nicholas Parkhill, the CEO of ACON, said they were proud to be working with the social media giant to promote a safe space online for LGBTIQ+ people.

“ACON want to make sure the social media experiences of people in our communities are positive,” Parkhill said. “That’s why we worked with Facebook and Instagram, in partnership with Trans Pride Australia, to develop this new guide to support your wellbeing, help you stay safe, and practice self-care online.

“Facebook and Instagram provide great opportunities for our communities to connect with and support each other, exchange ideas, access resources and share information. We hope this guide helps in making your online experience enriching and empowering.”

All new features will begin rolling out today, and should be available to all Australians in the coming days.

Source: Media Release, image: Jeffrey Feng.


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