6 major social media platforms fail LGBTQ users, report says

Social Media Platforms LGBTQ Users

The six largest social media platforms received abysmal grades for LGBTQ safety, privacy, and expression and failed to protect LGBTQ users from hate speech and harassment, according to GLAAD. Photo: Q Voice News

The six largest social media platforms received abysmal grades for LGBTQ+ safety, privacy, and expression and failed to protect LGBTQ+ users from hate speech and harassment, according to GLAAD.

Five of them – YouTube, X/Twitter, and Meta’s Facebook, Instagram, and Threads – received F grades for the third consecutive year.

TikTok was the only platform to improve, going from an F to a D+, according to the 2024 Social Media Safety Index report.

“Leaders of social media companies are failing at their responsibility to make safe products. When it comes to anti-LGBTQ hate and disinformation, the industry is dangerously lacking on enforcement of current policies,” GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a press release. “There is a direct relationship between online harms and the hundreds of anti-LGBTQ legislative attacks, rising rates of real-world anti-LGBTQ violence and threats of violence, that social media platforms are responsible for and should act with urgency to address.”

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

Here are the specific scores, and increases or decreases compared to 2023.

Findings from the report:

  •  Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and disinformation on social media translates to real-world offline harms.
  • Platforms are largely failing to successfully mitigate dangerous anti-LGBTQ hate and disinformation and frequently do not adequately enforce their own policies regarding such content.
  • Platforms disproportionately suppress LGBTQ content, including via removal, demonetization, and forms of shadowbanning.
  • Lack of effective, meaningful transparency reporting from social media companies with regard to content moderation, algorithms, data protection, and data privacy practices.

The report makes note of high-follower hate accounts and right-wing figures who continue to manufacture and circulate most of this activity.

This creates a breeding ground for harmful rhetoric, which can escalate into real-world violence and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, GLAAD said.

Some of these actions, according to experts, can be categorized as stochastic terrorism, violent acts performed in response to messages intended to inspire such actions.

The report cites more than 700 incidents of anti-LGBTQ+ hate and extremism documented between November 2022 and November 2023, including homicides, assaults, bomb threats, and acts of vandalism.

GLAAD makes fve recommendations to improve social media platforms for LGBTQ users.

  • Strengthen and enforce existing policies that protect LGBTQ people and others from hate, harassment, and misinformation/disinformation, and also from suppression of legitimate LGBTQ expression.
  • Improve moderation including training moderators on the needs of LGBTQ users, and moderate across all languages, cultural contexts, and regions. This also means not being overly reliant on artificial intelligence.
  • Be transparent with regard to content moderation, community guidelines, terms of service policy implementation, algorithm designs, and enforcement reports. Such transparency should be facilitated via working with independent researchers.
  • Stop violating privacy/respect data privacy. To protect LGBTQ users from surveillance and discrimination, platforms should reduce the amount of data they collect, infer, and retain. They should cease the practice of targeted surveillance advertising, including the use of algorithmic content recommendation. In addition, they should implement end-to-end encryption by default on all private messaging to protect LGBTQ people from persecution, stalking, and violence.
  • Promote civil discourse and proactively message expectations for user behavior, including respecting platform hate and harassment policies.

“In addition to these egregious levels of inadequately moderated anti-LGBTQ hate and disinformation, we also see a corollary problem of over-moderation of legitimate LGBTQ expression — including wrongful take downs of LGBTQ accounts and creators, shadow banning, and similar suppression of LGBTQ content,” Jenni Olson, GLAAD’s senior director of social media safety, said. “Meta’s recent policy change limiting algorithmic eligibility of so-called ‘political content,’ which the company partly defines as: ‘social topics that affect a group of people and/or society at large’ is especially concerning.”

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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