Social media platforms still failing to enforce protections for LGBTQ users: GLAAD

A recent study shows that five major social media platforms are not protecting LGBTQ users, despite making policy commitments.

Stock art ofg Lesbian couple using the internet
Not one major social network got a satisfactory score by GLAAD's rankings. (Photo credit: Getty Images).

NEW YORK: The five biggest social media platforms are failing to enforce protection policies for LGBTQ users, according to a new report from GLAAD. 

The report, released last week, shows that each platform has a policy commitment to protect its queer, transgender and gender-nonconforming users. But based on other metrics, these platforms either fail to enforce their commitments or leave out essential forms of protection.

This is LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD’s second year publishing its annual Social Media Safety Index, a study evaluating how well Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok protect their LGBTQ users. It gives each platform a score between zero and 100 in 12 categories, then puts them together to give the platform an overall score. GLAAD gave all five platforms failing grades with scores between 43 and 48.

A “policy commitment to protect LGBTQ users” is the only category GLAAD gave every platform a 100 in. Each failed in different categories, such as offering gender pronouns on user profiles, demonetizing LGBTQ content and training moderators.

“Prominent voices from the right wing speak out and break these policies through spewing misinformation about LGBTQ people, said Rich Ferraro, chief communications officer at GLAAD. “Actions that the platforms say they will take when harassment happens do not always happen. And I think that’s because of PR implications.”

Ferraro said that platforms can’t just support LGBTQ users, but must also crack down on anti-LGBTQ users with actions like prohibiting deadnaming and misgendering, a category that Instagram, Facebook and YouTube all received a zero in.

GLAAD assembled the report with independent research firm Goodwin Simon, advisers from Stanford University and Harvard Law School and fellow LGBTQ advocates.

This year marks the first time that the report included metrics and scores. Last year's report was a roadmap that laid out how the platforms could improve. One suggestion was to prohibit deadnaming and misgendering, a policy it continues to request Instagram, Facebook and YouTube implement.

Ferraro said that he doesn’t expect any platform to get a 100 anytime soon. He also said that he’s hopeful scores will improve by next year’s report.

The court case between Twitter and Elon Musk may affect that prediction. On Tuesday, a Delaware court granted Twitter an October trial for its lawsuit against Elon Musk, which is close to the platform's preferred date in September. The trial may force Musk to complete a $44 billion deal to purchase the platform.

GLAAD posted a statement in April opposing Musk’s potential ownership of the platform. The statement cited Musk’s tweets that criticized pronoun usage.

Musk recently criticized Twitter for deleting author Jordan Peterson’s tweet that deadnamed actor Elliot Page.

“If Elon Musk is not running Twitter, I think there’s a far better chance of them doing their job when it comes to enforcement,” Ferraro said.


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