Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok do not sufficiently protect LGBTQ users, according to GLAAD
TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook need to pull their socks up to make their platforms safer spaces for LGBTQ users, GLAAD says in its latest report.
The organization is now annual Social Media Safety Index analyzes the safety of LGBTQ users on the five major social media platforms: TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. The first report was released last year and is now a pretty big measure of how companies are implementing real-world measures to protect LGBTQ people from harm online.
Well, they all did very poorly this year.
GLAAD uses what is called a “platform scorecard” for each company, developed with Ranking Digital Rights (a US company that ranks technology companies on human rights) and Goodwin Simon Strategic Research ( an independent public opinion research firm). The score is the total of 12 LGBTQ-specific factors, including whether the platform has an explicit policy against hate speech and harassment, whether you can add your pronouns to your profile, and whether the platform prohibits ads that may be harmful to (or specifically target) LGBTQ people.
The 12 domains assessed by GLAAD.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok all scored less than 50 points out of 100. TikTok had the lowest score with a score of 43, followed by YouTube and Twitter with 45, Facebook with 46 and Instagram with 48 .
All five companies were found to have a comprehensive policy protecting LGBTQ users from threats, hate speech, harassment, violence, and attacks based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. But of course, having company policies or community guidelines in place is one thing; Enforcing them is another.. For example, GLAAD said Facebook “should regularly publish data about the actions it has taken to enforce policies protecting LGBTQ users.”
GLAAD noted that TikTok and Twitter are the only two companies with an explicit policy against harmful anti-LGBTQ microaggressions, dead names, and gender errors. GLAAD recommended that Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube “commit politically to protecting transgender, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming users from dead names and targeted gender errors.”
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TikTok, Facebook and Instagram all allow users to add gender pronouns to their profiles. YouTube and Twitter don’t have a dedicated feature, though. Twitter reportedly worked on it last year, so… where is he? Notably, the report notes that Instagram’s feature is “not currently available to all users” and that Facebook’s feature “is only available to users who select a custom genre and select one or more genres.” – so you can’t just type your pronouns; you have to choose from a list of gender options, then choose from three pronoun options (she/her/their). GLAAD-recommended platforms with this feature should give users the ability to customize who can see their gender pronouns for privacy reasons.
Meanwhile, YouTube has long been criticized for hiding and demonetize queer contentand GLAAD’s report struck head-on, calling on the company to “demonstrate a greater commitment to addressing the demonetization and unwarranted suppression of LGBTQ creators and their content.”
“Despite LGBTQ advocates and creators who are concerned about the removal and demonetization of LGBTQ-related content from advertising services on YouTube, Alphabet provides only limited transparency on the status of demonetization and removal of LGBTQ creators and their content,” the report said. GLAAD said Alphabet “does not disclose a comprehensive plan outlining concrete steps to address the demonetization, filtering, and removal of LGBTQ creators” from YouTube.
Alphabet provides only limited transparency on the status of demonetization and removal of LGBTQ creators and their content.
Another major criticism of the Big Five in the report, unsurprisingly, is the limited transparency around the options users have to control the collection of data related to a user’s sexual orientation and gender identity. According to the report, Instagram and YouTube “both disclose[s] only limited information regarding the options users have to control this. Facebook “discloses only limited options”. And Twitter and TikTok don’t disclose any options to control that. GLAAD recommends giving users greater control over their own data – which we d all love, right?
This leads to GLAAD’s findings on targeted ads based on a user’s gender identity or sexual orientation. GLAAD found that Meta clearly prohibits targeted ads based on “sensitive topics”, which included sexual orientation but not gender identity. The organization recommended that “Instagram should commit to not allowing third-party advertisers to target users based on their gender identity” and that Facebook should disclose that it does not allow this. As for TikTok? Ad targeting policy would change by location. “Rather than an outright ban on targeted advertising based on a user’s sexual orientation and gender identity, limitations on advertising targeting based on a user’s sexual orientation depend on local laws,” said found GLAAD.
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Another area examined by the index was organizational: whether the company was truly committed to diversifying its workforce and hiring LGBTQ prospects to help with platform policy and provide evidence of have organized formal training to educate employees on LGBTQ needs. None of the companies disclose whether they have an LGBTQ policy officer. Notably, “TikTok was the only company that did not disclose any information about the steps it is taking to diversify its workforce,” GLAAD added.
You can read the full report here – there’s plenty more detail there. And here are the community guidelines for the five platforms, if you want to check their policies: