Meta fails to moderate harmful content targeting trans users, report says

Meta doesn't moderate ant-trans content

Social media giant Meta fails to adequately moderate content that targets transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming users with hate speech, according to a recent report. Photo: Dima Solomin/Unsplash

Social media giant Meta fails to adequately moderate extremist content that targets transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming users with hate speech, according to a recent report.

In “Unsafe: Meta Fails to Moderate Extreme Anti-trans Hate Across Facebook, Instagram, and Threads,” GLAAD highlights a troubling array of extreme anti-trans content proliferating  Meta’s platforms and spotlights a wide range of posts that demean and endanger transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people.

“The company’s ongoing failure to enforce its own policies against anti-LGBTQ, and especially anti-trans hate is simply unacceptable,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, said in a press release.

New York Times missing trans voices in articles, study says

This inaction is a deliberate choice by Meta, highlighting its failure to protect vulnerable users on its platforms, Ellis said.

“The ongoing inaction and silence is an active choice, showing that Meta is not living up to its company values and most importantly, is not protecting its trans and gender nonconforming users,” she said.

The findings, published last week, span from June 2023 to March.

In response to these findings, GLAAD is doubling its demand for Meta to urgently refine and implement effective content moderation strategies that genuinely protect all users, with a particular focus on people from marginalized and vulnerable communities.

GLAAD attempted to report these violations, but the report says that Meta often dismissed them as non-violative or failed to respond, allowing such content to persist.

Also, the reported content includes examples of violent speech, targeted harassment, and incitement to violence, as well as the promotion of harmful practices like so-called “conversion therapy” and disturbing calls for the “eradication” of transgender people.

GLAAD’s report follows a collective plea for change in a June 2023 open letter, supported by 250 influential figures within the LGBTQ+ community and allies, which called upon Meta and other social media giants to take definitive action against the flood of anti-trans hate and misinformation festering on their platforms.

Despite this call to action, GLAAD’s investigation reveals a continuous stream of violative content, pointing to a significant enforcement gap within Meta’s content moderation processes.

Among the report’s key findings are numerous incidents where reported content, complete with derogatory slurs and dehumanizing tropes, were either dismissed by Meta as non-violative or left without any action.

This content ranges from unfounded and harmful stereotypes to outright incitements of violence against transgender people.

These posts, frequently shared by popular anti-LGBTQ+ hate accounts, characterized trans individuals as “satanic,” “sexual predators,” “terrorists,” and “perverts” and used slurs to describe them, the report said.

In September, Media Matters published a study that highlighted similar moderation failures by Meta, particularly Instagram’s leniency toward groups like Gays Against Groomers, known for spreading harmful anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric.

This investigation raised additional concerns about the consistency and effectiveness of the company’s policies aimed at safeguarding LGBTQ+ users from hate speech and harassment.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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