GLAAD Report: Social Media Is Unsafe for LGBTQ Users

It's still a hotbed of hate speech and harassment

A new report by media watchdog organization GLAAD shows how the most popular social media platforms are “categorically unsafe” for LGBTQ users, especially in terms of hate speech and harassment. 

First reported by Axios, the 50-page report, titled GLAAD’s Social Media Safety Index (SMSI), alleges that Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, YouTube, and TikTok, in particular, are not doing enough to prevent hate speech on their platforms. 

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The report includes problems on the platforms like “inadequate content moderation, polarizing algorithms, and discriminatory AI which disproportionately impacts LGBTQ users and other marginalized communities who are uniquely vulnerable to hate and harassment and discrimination.” 

“These companies need to internalize the costs of effectively moderating their platforms and stop externalizing these costs onto the bodies and lives of vulnerable people and groups,”  Leigh Honeywell, the founder of Tall Poppy and a GLAAD SMSI advisory committee member, said in the report. 

GLAAD gave broad recommendations for all platforms, as well as for the specific social media networks mentioned above. Some of those include tweaking algorithms to slow the spread of misinformation; hiring more human moderators, including LGBTQ people in leadership roles; addressing privacy and policies around outing LGBTQ folks; and doing better at enforcing existing harassment and discrimination policies.

These companies need to internalize the costs of effectively moderating their platforms and stop externalizing these costs onto the bodies and lives of vulnerable people and groups.

“We call upon the leadership of these companies to take immediate action, to implement these urgently needed changes in their products and policies and to prioritize researching new and different ideas and solutions,” the report reads. 

Even though the study deemed the most popular platforms to be unsafe for LGBTQ people, GLAAD did acknowledge some of the ways some platforms have done right. Some of these "thumbs up" incentives include Twitter's Hateful Conduct Policies and how the platform characterizes the values behind these policies, as well as YouTube showcasing the ACLU LGBT Right Project on the YouTube Social Impact page

However, it’s clear social media platforms still aren't stopping all harassment. The Social Media Safety Index sites a Pew Research report released in January called The State of Online Harassment, which shows that seven in 10 people who identify as LGBTQ have experienced harassment online, compared to four in 10 who identify as straight. 

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