GLAAD’s first Social Media Safety Index (SMSI) report finds that Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube are “effectively unsafe for LGBTQ users”.
The report identified that the most significant and widespread issue amongst these social media platforms was the “prevalence and intensity of hate speech and harassment”. It also labelled hate speech aimed at LGBTQIA+ people and the dissemination of misinformation as a “public health and safety issue”. A survey cited in the report states that more than two thirds of LGBTQIA+ adults have encountered online hate and harassment.
Initially, GLAAD intended to grade each social media platform based on the safety of the LGBTQIA+ user experience, but soon realised that each platform would receive failing grades if this system was used.
A number of key areas of concern were identified by GLAAD in the report, targeting each specific platform:
- TikTok and YouTube have had a number of complaints from users being “shadow banned”, censored or demonetised for posting LGBTQIA+ content.
- Facebook/Instagram has allowed harmful advertising, misinformation and groups such as Straight Pride to be created, undermining the rights of LGBTQIA+ people.
- Twitter fared better in the report, making improvements to address misinformation, accountability and safety for its users over the last year but still experiences problems with incorrectly censoring LGBTQIA+ content.
The SMSI report makes several recommendations for these platforms to increase the safety of its LGBTQIA+ users including; the specific protection of these groups within their community guidelines and hate speech definitions, improving content moderation and ease of reporting problematic content for users, and confronting problems of bias surrounding its algorithms and the monetisation of content.