GLAAD: Social media platforms don't do enough to protect LGBTQ users

Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube all fall short in a new study.

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Jul 9, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA;  Supporters wave a Pride flag prior to the game between the New York Red Bulls and FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Social networks still aren't doing much to safeguard LGBTQ people against abuse, according to GLAAD. Bloomberg notes the media monitoring organization has published its second-ever Social Media Safety Index, and has given failing scores to Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube after examining their LGBTQ-oriented features and policies. While GLAAD found that all the platforms had strong policy commitments and barred hateful ads, their actions generally didn't live up to those goals.

None of the five platforms did enough to restrict anti-LGBTQ content, the watchdog said. They also fell short on offering gender pronoun options, providing adequate moderator training, minimizing takedowns of legitimate content, banning non-consensual ad targeting and protecting the privacy of gender identity and sexual orientation data. Only TikTok and Twitter adequately barred targeted deadnaming and misgendering (maliciously using a trans or non-binary person's pre-transition name or gender), while Facebook and Instagram were the only ones making sufficient promises to shield LGBTQ users from harm.

GLAAD made recommendations in the wake of the findings. It called for more policies against practices like deadnaming and unwanted ad targeting. The organization also wanted Facebook to outline how it enforces its LGBTQ policies, and YouTube to disclose how it minimized wrongful demonetization and content bans. There was also pressure on TikTok to publicly promise to diversify its workforce.

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All five social networks defended their current approaches in statements to Bloomberg. Facebook and Instagram parent Meta said it barred dehumanizing and violent anti-LGBTQ material, and will pull misgendering content upon request. Twitter said it already worked with GLAAD and was discussing the new recommendations. YouTube parent Google stressed that it made "significant progress" in pulling harmful videos, while TikTok highlighted both its anti-hate policies and recent tools to promote kinder comments.

As Bloomberg pointed out, though, there are still significant gaps in these protections. GLAAD is hoping the Safety Index will pressure companies to act, and that regulators will step in to demand greater accountability.

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