Social Media Fails to Protect LGBTQ+ Users From Harassment and Hate Speech, Study Finds

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All major social media platforms fail to safeguard LGBTQ+ users from harassment, discrimination, and hatred, a new study has found.

In GLAAD’s 2022 Social Media Safety Index, no platform scored above 50% for criteria like safety, privacy and expression. Instagram topped the list at 48%, followed by its Meta-owned sibling Facebook at 46%, while Twitter and YouTube both came in at 45%. TikTok ranked dead last at just 43%.

Platforms fell short when it came to fundamental measures, such as offering users option to add pronouns to their profiles, stating a commitment to protect LGBTQ+ users, and being transparent about content moderation and collection of data on users’ gender and sexuality.

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Despite ranking TikTok last, the study notes that it was one of just two of the companies examined that had a policy against willfull deadnaming and misgendering, and a clear method of detecting violations. It also fared well in most of the other categories, providing for the use of gender pronouns and information on its content moderation protocols. But the social media giant took major hits for giving users limited control over content recommendations based on their stated gender or sexuality, and for leaving identity-targeted advertising up to local laws. Furthermore, GLAAD says TikTok is the sole platform in the study that did not disclose what it’s doing to diversify its workforce.

A survey from May 2022 released in tandem with the study revealed that members of the LGBTQ+ community do not feel safe on social media, with 84% of respondents saying that there are not enough protections in place. A whopping 40% of all LGBTQ+ adults, and 49% of transgender and nonbinary people, said they feel neither welcomed nor safe on these platforms.

Online harassment is experienced by 66% of LGBTQ+ users, while more than half reported “severe harassment” in the form of sustained harassment, doxxing and/or stalking.

Read the full report here.

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