As anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and hate continue to escalate online, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation released its second annual Social Media Safety Index this week.
According to GLAAD, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok received failing grades for not providing “LGBTQ safety, privacy, and expression,” the report said.
In May 2021, GLAAD released its first index of LGBTQ+ user safety on social media. At that time, it said Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube are “effectively unsafe” due to harassment of, and misinformation about, the queer community.
It doesn’t seem like things have changed since then, according to GLAAD’s newest report.
“Today’s political and cultural landscapes demonstrate the real-life harmful effects of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and misinformation online,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis stated in a July 13 news release that accompanied the report.
“The hate and harassment, as well as misinformation and flat-out lies about LGBTQ people, that go viral on social media are creating real-world dangers, from legislation that harms our community to the recent threats of violence at Pride gatherings,” she said. “Social media platforms are active participants in the rise of anti-LGBTQ cultural climate and their only response should be to urgently create safer products and policies, and then enforce those policies.”
Out of the five platforms, Instagram scored the highest with 48%. While GLAAD highlights that the photo-sharing site has a policy intended to protect marginalized groups, the report shows a lack of transparency in several areas, including safeguarding transgender and nonbinary users from being deadnamed or misgendered.
GLAAD also calls on Instagram to give users more options to express their gender identity, as well as restrict third-party advertisers from targeting based on gender.
Like Instagram, Facebook also has a protection policy. However, it has similar issues with misgendering and deadnaming and a lack of transparency regarding “options for users to control the company’s collection and inference of user information related to their sexual orientation and gender identity.”
For these issues, Facebook earns 46%.
Twitter comes in third place with a rating of 45%. While applauded for its policies against misgendering and protections for LGBTQ+ users facing harassment and hate speech, the platform lacks some features to make it more friendly to the LGBTQ+ community. GLAAD recommends Twitter add a pronouns option that can be customized for privacy, as well as more user options “to control the company’s collection and inference of information related to users’ sexual orientation and gender identity.”
While rising close to the top in users in recent years, YouTube falters in several areas, earning the platform 45% from GLAAD. Policies are in place to protect LGBTQ+ users from harassment but enforcement of said policies was less than ideal. There is also concern regarding demonetizing accounts of LGBTQ+ users and the lack of transparency addressing those actions.
Coming in last place with a rating of 43% is TikTok. Although TikTok has been doing some things right, like training moderators on the needs of LGBTQ+ users, according to the report, issues with targeting advertising and lack of control over privacy or user data landed TikTok at the bottom of the list. GLAAD also mentions that TikTok “was the only company that did not disclose any information on steps it takes to diversify its workforce.”
GLAAD offers suggestions to each platform to help increase their scores next year and make their online spaces and workplaces more welcoming and safe for LGBTQ+ users.
Click here to read the complete 2022 Social Media Safety Index.