Most Social Sites Suck at Protecting LGBTQ Users, But Twitter Is the Worst

Most Social Sites Suck at Protecting LGBTQ Users, But Twitter Is the Worst

The far right’s anti-LGBTQ crusade, especially its newfound laser-like attention on trans hate, is booming on some of the most popular social media platforms. According to a new report from an LGBTQ advocacy group finds that these platforms are getting better at supporting the queer community, but it’s not nearly good enough.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) released its latest report about social media sites Thursday, and none did very well. The five biggest social media platforms each received a failing grade on the LGBTQ advocacy group’s Social Media Safety Index Platform Scorecard. The group said there was “an urgent need for effective regulatory oversight of the entire tech industry” to protect the LGBTQ community.

Meta-owned platforms Instagram and Facebook received a 63 and 61 per cent score, respectively. Though it’s a good deal better than either platform performed in last year’s survey, the advocacy group noted they and other social media platforms failed to enforce their own anti-harassment policies. TikTok had a lower score at 57 per cent while YouTube sat at 54 per cent. Coming in last place — as seems to be the norm since Elon Musk took over — was Twitter at a bare 33 per cent. Every other platform scored better than last year, but GLAAD’s researchers said the bird app slipped up horribly over the last few months.

The scorecard is based on 12 LGBTQ “indicators” that include open policies claiming to protect LGBTQ users, pronoun options for accounts, and transparency about how users’ gender data is collected.

Musk has opened up Twitter to a host of far-right, anti-LGBT accounts, some of which have advocated for violence against the LGBTQ community. He has also changed Twitter’s hateful content policy to allow people to deadname trans people. More than that, the now-private Twitter no longer publishes a diversity report, and it does not make it clear that users have the option of adding their gender pronouns to their profiles.

It’s at this point Gizmodo would reach out to Twitter for comment, but Musk has set the official press email account to respond with a “💩” emoji. No one has time for that shit.

That’s not to say other platforms are doing a good job. Instagram and Facebook both don’t have a policy to protect members from harassment through deadnaming. GLAAD also mentioned that none of these platforms offered many options to express their pronouns and that Meta and the ByteDance-owned TikTok don’t share enough information about what data they collect on users’ gender identity. GLAAD said the Google-owned YouTube hasn’t done enough to give users control of gender identity data, and that it remains opaque about how some LGBTQ-related content is demonized and removed.

This isn’t just rhetoric. Harvard University data scientist Jay Ulfelder reported earlier this month that the number of anti-LGBTQ+ demonstrations has been booming since 2022. The first four months of 2023 saw close to 41 such protests in the U.S. each month. The far-right hate brigade has posted threats of violence on social media in an effort to get stores like Target to take down Pride Month products. GLAAD CEO Sarah Ellis told Axios the platforms share a fair bit of the blame for the uptick in violence against members of the LGBTQ community.

The report links to a spreadsheet documenting more than two dozen news stories that linked far-right online rhetoric to real-world threats, harassment, and violence in the first few months of 2023 alone. GLAAD also mentions that some accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers are actively spreading LGBTQ hate and that social media platforms like Twitter are continuing to make bank off that engagement. GLAAD references not-so-subtle dog whistles like Michael Knowles CPAC speech where he said “Transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely” as one example of far-right figures trying to hold up a veneer of respectability while promoting violence.

A Thursday report from RollingStone delves into far-right personalities like Matt Walsh, showing how the Daily Wire pundit’s gay-bashing and transphobia has ballooned his Twitter followers from 767,000 to 1.24 million in a single year. Meanwhile, Walsh has claimed he made $US100,000 a month off YouTube ads attacking trans influencer Dyland Mulvaney before the platform demonetised his account earlier this spring.

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