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Facebook And Instagram Launch New Features Ahead Of Sydney Mardi Gras Celebrations

The 2020 Sydney Mardi Gras is almost upon us and social media platforms are jumping on the Pride celebrations, with Facebook and Instagram launching a host of new features ahead of the big event.

Users across Australia will have access to the new features from Friday, with Instagram expanding its Pride campaign that gained popularity last year with its rainbow hashtags.

This year, more than 50 different LGBTQ+ hashtags -- including #MardiGras2020, #WhatMatters and #LoveWins will appear with the rainbow gradient when used on the platform.

Instagram is also bringing the Pride rainbow to its Instagram Stories this year.

This feature will see users' story rings turn rainbow for 24 hours if they use one of the LGBTQ+ hashtags in any of their picture or video stories.

Instagram is expanding its rainbow pride features. Image: Supplied

Facebook users will also get to join in, with a special Mardi Gras animation being launched for Australian users.

The short animation, which features a rainbow heart, will play every time someone shares "Happy Mardi Gras" in a post.

The short animation will appear for Facebook users in Australia. Image: Supplied

Facebook Australia's Head of Policy, Mia Garlick said the online initiative was being launched to celebrate the vibrant LGBTQ communities that call the social media platforms home.

"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,” Garlick said.

The social media giant is also promising an exclusive Facebook Live show featuring Mardi Gras performers and LGBTQ+ icons as part of its "Your Voice Matters" campaign.

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As part of the campaign, Facebook and Instagram have also partnered up with ACON and TransPride Australia to develop a guide to online well-being and safety.

The 'Safe and Strong' guide will highlight the platform's available safety features in order to help LGBTQ+ people stay safe and practice self-care online.

Instagram will also be returning to the parade with its own float. Image: Jeffrey Feng/Supplied.

ACON CEO Nicholas Parkhill said the organisation wants to ensure the social media experiences for people in the LGBTQ+ community are positive.

"Facebook and Instagram provide great opportunities for our communities to connect with and support each other, exchange ideas, access resources and share information," Parkhill said.

"We hope this guide helps in making your online experience enriching and empowering.”