It's June again, which means it's that time of year when Facebook sticks a rainbow on several of its features in celebration of Pride. This year, to the delight of many, the company went so far as to create a rainbow Pride reaction to join in with the hahas, wows, and other well-known digital icons.
Slightly less delightful was the realization that the rainbow reaction is suspiciously absent from the profiles of some users who just so happen to live in countries that oppress members of the LGBTQ community.
This, perhaps unsurprisingly, led to speculation that in limiting the Pride reaction, the company was deferring to repressive regimes.
Facebook confirms it hasn't rolled out the "Pride" reaction in certain countries...so far, all countries where it's illegal to be gay. pic.twitter.com/dWPPv7rysT
— Jillian (@jilliancyork) June 19, 2017
And for sure, it's not a good look for the social media giant. But is failing to roll out the pride reaction in countries like Singapore and Malaysia an intentional nod to those regimes' anti-LGBTQ policies, or just a really bad oversight on Facebook's part?
When Facebook first announced the rainbow reaction on June 5, the company was clear that it would not be available to all users. Facebook VP Alex Schultz chalked this up to the fact that the company is "testing" the feature, although he did not specify the point of the test.
"People in major markets with Pride celebrations will be able to use a temporary rainbow reaction during Pride month," Schultz explained in a blog post. "You can also like this page to access the reaction, however, because this is a new experience we’ve been testing, the rainbow reaction will not be available everywhere."
We reached out to Facebook to get to the bottom of what at the very least appears to be a rather questionable decision, as well as to determine just what exactly the company is testing, but received no response as of press time.
So, what's the deal here? Unfortunately, with Facebook staying mum, it's hard to know for sure. However, in the absence of an official explanation, people are left to guess as to what Facebook's motives truly are. And, frankly, it doesn't look so good.
After all, there's nothing quite like taking a bold corporate stance for equal rights while simultaneously not doing so.