GLAAD, an advocacy group, claims that Twitter is the worst social media platform for LGBTQ users, as they face hate speech and abuse on the microblogging site.
GLAAD, originally known as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, is an organization founded in 1985 dedicated to combating media prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people and promoting understanding, acceptance, and equality.
GLAAD’s annual Social Media Safety Index, released on Thursday, June 15, gave Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter low marks for failing to do enough to keep their users safe.
GLAAD’s scorecard called Twitter “the most dangerous platform for LGBTQ people” and the only one that saw its scores decline from last year.
LGBTQ advocates have long warned that online hate and harassment can lead to violence offline. But even when it does not, online abuse can take a toll on a person’s mental health.
“There isn’t a week that goes by that we don’t have a doxxing situation for somebody in our community that we have to come in and help them stop it and stop the hate, stop the vitriol and stop the attacks,” said GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis referring to the malicious practice that involves gathering private or identifying information and releasing it online without the person’s permission, usually in an attempt to harass, threaten, shame or exact revenge. “It’s really been amped up to a level that we’ve never seen before.”
On Twitter, attacks on LGBTQ users have increased substantially since Elon Musk took over the company last fall, according to the group.
According to GLAAD, a significant part of the cause is the massive staffing reduction Musk has implemented since his takeover, as there are just not enough content moderators to handle the influx of inappropriate tweets ranging from hate speech to explicit material and harassment.
Musk has also identified himself as a “free-speech absolutist” who believes Twitter’s former regulations were excessively restrictive.
For example, in April, Twitter discreetly eliminated a guideline prohibiting “targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals,” increasing fears that the platform is becoming less secure for underrepresented groups.
Twitter, as part of the same retooling of its site policies, also changed how it responds to tweets that violate its rules. While in the past, offending tweets were removed, the company now says it will sometimes restrict a tweet instead of removing it from the platform altogether.
“Twitter is is largely a cesspool now. You can’t post without getting attacked. There’s no room for conversation. It is just about hand-to-hand combat,” Ellis said. “And that’s what it is. It’s like backyard dogfights.”
Ellis lamented that before the takeover, Twitter was a “leader” among major social media platforms when it comes to protecting LGBTQ users.
Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, saw a 15 percentage point score increase for both its platforms, to 61% and 63%, respectively.
GLAAD’s index assesses 12 LGBTQ-specific indicators, such as explicit protections from hate and harassment for LGBTQ users, the availability of gender pronoun alternatives on profiles, and the prohibition of advertising that is damaging or discriminatory to LGBTQ persons.
While Meta has improved and implemented strong regulations, GLAAD claims that the firm does not regularly enforce them. For example, the organization claims that for many abusive messages it reports, Meta will send an automated response indicating that it is unable to review the post owing to the enormous volume of reports it gets.
TikTok, which saw its score increase from 14 points to 57%, said it is “proud to have strong policies aimed at protecting LGBTQ+ individuals from harassment and hate speech, including misgendering and deadnaming, and we’re always looking to strengthen our approach, informed both by our community and the advice of experts, such as GLAAD.”
Google’s YouTube, meanwhile, scored 54%, up nine points from 2022.
“Our policies prohibit content that promotes violence or hatred against members of the LGBTQ+ community. Over the last few years, we’ve made significant progress in our ability to quickly remove this content from our platform and prominently surface authoritative sources in search results and recommendations,” said spokesperson Jack Malon.