Media platforms

How social media platforms could do more to protect LGBTQ+ users

Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, or even Twitter and TikTok, are not doing enough to protect users belonging to the LGBTQ+ community, according to a new report by GLAAD, an American non-governmental organization fighting against discrimination against the gay, lesbian and transgender communities. . So which social network has the most work to do? Advocacy group GLAAD shared the findings of its 2022 Social Media Safety Index. The social media report’s analysis focused on community rules and practices regarding the safety of users in the LGBTQ+ community, based on 12 criteria. These include the ability to add pronouns, the establishment of rules to prevent gender errors, and transparency around the collection of data on sexual orientation and gender identity. And the results were disappointing.

Between Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, none of the social networks analyzed managed to reach the score of 50 out of 100. Despite their numerous measures announced to ensure the well-being of their users, these platforms are still visibly far from ensure the safety of LGBTQ+ users, according to the GLAAD report. TikTok emerges as the least compliant platform in terms of safety for the LGBTQ+ community, with a score of 42.51 out of 100. While the Chinese social network obtained a score of 100 for its commitment to protecting LGBTQ+ users , like all other platforms, TikTok also scored points for its fight against “deadnaming” – the intentional use of a transgender person’s former name – and against the wrong gender of users. However, the platform hesitated on the diversity of its teams, its relationship with advertisers regarding targeted advertising, and the possibility for its users to precisely control the data collected by the platform on their sexual orientation and gender.

“While there may be legitimate information security concerns related to the fact that TikTok is a Chinese company, I think it is extremely important to keep two things in mind: the first is that with all these companies, we really have very little visibility or reason to trust any of them when it comes to data security – remember Cambridge Analytica,” said Jenni Olson, senior director of media security. social media at GLAAD, to Forbes.” And secondly, there are many examples of media outlets and pundits proposing that TikTok is a Chinese company, where they are clearly exploiting xenophobic and anti-Asian sentiment that is just really irresponsible and unthinking .”

TikTok has often been criticized for removing content posted by users from the LGBTQ+ community, as well as posts dealing with related topics and even hashtags. As the report recalls, certain keywords like “gay”, “transgender” or “I am gay/lesbian” are blocked on the application in certain languages, such as Russian, Arabic and Bosnian. In November 2021, TikTok even came under fire for censoring Disney’s text-to-speech voices saying words like “gay” and “lesbian.”

For the rest of the scores, Twitter comes in fourth place among the networks that do the most to ensure the safety and well-being of users in the LGBTQ+ community, with a score of 44.7 out of 100. It is preceded by YouTube ( 45.11) in third place. The Meta group comes first, with Facebook (46.3) and Instagram (48.38). “These companies have an inherent financial conflict of interest, which explains at least in part their refusal to categorize certain content as harmful or remove it from their platforms once it has been identified,” the GLAAD report explains.

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