Earlier in June, Facebook launched a set of features to celebrate Pride month, including the option to react to posts with a rainbow flag in lieu of a regular “like.” But access to this option is different depending on location.
The feature is only available as a default option for users living in “major markets with Pride celebrations.” In other places, users need to “like” the Facebook LBGQT page to gain access to the feature. And in some places, the feature isn’t available at all.
According to a Facebook blog post, the disparity in access is necessary “because this is a new experience we’ve been testing.”
Some users see it instead as a way for the company to avoid offending those who may not be supportive of LBGQT rights. “It kind of feels like facebook higher-ups are afraid of losing whatever percentage of their userbase are hateful bigots so they hide it behind liking this page so that nobody who would get upset will accidentally see it,” writes a user by the name of Wil Donsaldson on the LBGQT Facebook page.
Other users pointed out that Facebook has released temporary reaction buttons in the past that did not require users to opt in. The company’s announcements for its theme reaction buttons for Mother’s Day and Halloween do not mention any need to like a page or otherwise signal special interest. “Not everyone has a mother, or a good relationship with their mother, but we all got purple “thankful” flowers for Mother’s Day,” wrote Facebook user Sadi Ebon Askavi. “Not everyone celebrates Halloween, but all the reactions were tweaked to reflect the whimsy of that holiday. What I’m seeing here is Facebook is trying to play both sides. ‘Here’s a rainbow reaction if you’re not homophobic. If you are, no problem! It’s opt in only! You’ll never have to see it!’ So you get all the praise and little to no pushback.”