Social Media

New GLAAD Survey Highlights How Unsafe Social Media Is for LGBTQ Users

Social media can be used for building community, creating a business, and expressing yourself. But when in the wrong hands, it can be used as a tool to discriminate, harass, and degrade. Well, GLAAD’s Social Media Safety Index (SMSI) survey highlights just that. 

In the recently released survey, GLAAD assessed LGBTQ user safety for LGBTQ. The platforms reviewed were Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube. This year’s SMSI is a follow up to last year’s inaugural survey and details how well these social media platforms cultivate LGBTQ safety, privacy, and expression. 

So, how did your favorite social media platforms measure up? Well, they all score dismally. Out of 100%, none of the platforms scored above 50%. Here’s the breakdown below:

  • Instagram = 48%
  • Facebook = 46%
  • TikTok = 45%
  • YouTube = 45%
  • Twitter = 43%

Yikes!

Why did they score so low? Well, each platform has a policy that states their commitment to protect their LGBTQ users, but they fall short of other protections and policies. For example, while TikTok and Twitter hinder users from misgendering and deadnaming people, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube do not. Each platform has prohibitions in place to prevent harmful anti-LGBTQ advertising, but all five sites do a poor job at preventing the demonetization and removal of LGBTQ content. 

And that doesn’t even consider the lack of sexual orientation and gender identity data control, the ability to add pronouns onto profiles, and the lack of implementing their policies on their commitment to protecting LGBTQ users. 

“Today’s political and cultural landscapes demonstrate the real-life harmful effects of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and misinformation online,” GLAAD’s president and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis, released in a statement. “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.”

Anti-LGBTQ content and information on anti-LGBTQ legislation are spread throughout social media. This distribution of information leads to further anti-LGBTQ sentiment and harm to queer and trans folks both online and in person. 

A report created by the Anti-Defamation League found that “66% of LGBTQ+ survey respondents reported experiencing hate-based online harassment”. It also revealed that “54% of LGBTQ+ respondents reported experiencing “severe harassment,” which covers physical threats, stalking, sexual harassment and doxing”.

Disheartening to read, when online communities are sometimes the only ways in which LGBTQ folks can create connection, share resources, and build a support system. 

You can check out the full survey here

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