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Special Project

Special Project

Secure Our Socials Campaign

Entered in Awareness Campaign


Human Rights Watch (HRW) and partners have documented how government officials and private individuals across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are targeting LGBTQ+ people based on their online activity on social media. The 177-page report by Rasha Younes gathered data from over a hundred affected people in MENA and reviewed forty judicial cases of digital targeting and its far-reaching offline consequences in five countries: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia. Security forces have entrapped LGBTQ+ people on social media, subjected them to online extortion, online harassment, and outing. In some cases, victims are arbitrarily detained, prosecuted, and tortured for same-sex conduct or “immorality” and “debauchery” provisions based on illegitimately obtained digital photos, chats, and similar information. Meta platforms, Facebook and Instagram, are one of the primary vehicles for targeting of LGBTQ+ people in the MENA region. 

The #SecureOurSocials campaign was born as a result of this report and is calling on Meta platforms to do more to make their platforms safe for LGBTQ+ people. As the largest social media company in the world, Meta, can be a global leader in making social media safe for everyone. The campaign objectives are twofold. First, #SecureOurSocials calls on Meta to be more accountable and transparent on content moderation and user safety by publishing meaningful data on its investment in user safety, including content moderation, and to adopt some additional safety features. Second, the campaign aims to create awareness for those at risk of harm, general social media users, and tech employees.


The #SecureOurSocials creative strategy was designed to meet the two campaign goals: asking Meta to do more to protect their users at risk and to raise awareness among LGBTQ+ people in the MENA region. Based on strong research evidence and the campaign goals, we defined a clear target audience: LGBTQ+ people in the MENA region, and LGBTQ+ people and allies around the world. And to reach them, we created a bilingual campaign, with all products in English and Arabic. For our digital advertising program, we focused on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter/X, and LinkedIn to reach our target audiences, including people at risk. All the campaign content led to a landing page that housed the petition and WhatsApp actions, key facts, links, and visuals.

The campaign’s main public action on the landing page was a petition directed to Meta executives asking them to act on user safety for Meta platforms. The page also included a WhatsApp share action, featuring a survivor story from our research report. Our landing page also directed to an awareness tips guide on how to mitigate the risks of digital targeting. 

For the artwork of the landing page and social media content, we worked closely with Safar Studio, a design studio based out of Beirut, which contributed their design expertise and regional perspective to create all the illustrations and graphics. 

The campaign strategy also included an emphasis on collaboration with influencers, elevating their stories on social media in artful, bold ways. We developed a layered approach engaging a Lebanese drag influencer for the hero campaign video, and LGBTQ+ survivors of digital targeting from the MENA region, serving as campaign ambassadors, who told their stories through graphic novel inspired content. Having tiers of engagement meant reaching target audiences with authentic voices that inspired action. Building awareness was key, which we achieved because audiences connected with the influencers who were the heart of the campaign. 

For the creative concept of our flagship video it was most important to center LGBTQ+ culture and people: drag harnesses beauty, satire and entertainment for resistance. We took inspiration from its rich history and “Air Anya” was born. ​​By subverting an airplane safety spot we conveyed through metaphor that online targeting has offline consequences while also communicating urgent safety tips to those at risk. ​​We collaborated with Lebanese drag pioneer, Anya Kneez ​(as seen in VOGUE), creating a character around the drag persona she’s developed over time.​ 

Finally, for shooting “Air Anya” we built a production team experienced in crafting award-winning campaigns for brands like L'Oréal and IKEA, marrying human rights expertise with creative excellence. They delivered the entertainment and production value we needed to activate wider audiences, on a limited, non-profit budget. 


On January 23, 2024, we launched the #SecureOurSocials campaign across HRW global and Arabic channels. The spot “Air Anya” was launched the day before through an early exclusive partnership with NowThis, the #1 video news brand in social media today.

Since the campaign launch, we reached 11M+ people across Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. The spot “Air Anya” garnered 260,000+ views on Instagram alone and earned 50+ stories globally, including in CNN, LGBTQ Nation, The Advocate, and The New Arab. Also, dozens of prominent rights groups uplifted the spot “Air Anya” across social media.

The digital advertising program achieved a Cost per Click of $0.01 against $4.55 industry standard - a resounding success in MENA markets for awareness, with Tunisia being the top performing country.

The #SecureOusSocials campaign inspired an email marketing collaboration featuring awareness tips signed by Anya, the main character of the video. The email action was opened by 245,000+ HRW subscribers, with an Open Rate of 26.8% against 24.3% organizational benchmark.

Finally, we received 165,000+ campaign site visits and 10,000+ emails were sent through the site to Meta executives. 


Video for Secure Our Socials Campaign

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Human Rights Watch


Entry Credits