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GLAAD RESPONDS TO ANNOUNCEMENT OF OVERSIGHT BOARD ON FACEBOOK ANTI-TRANS HATE CONTENT CASE
- Last updated: September 14, 2023
GLAAD President and CEO: “Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg should tell the world today that his company cares about the safety, rights, and dignity of transgender people. Meta must address this urgent and terrifying scourge of violent anti-trans hate content.”
(New York, NY — September 14, 2023) GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization issued a response to Wednesday’s announcement from the Oversight Board, the independent body that makes recommendations to Meta after people appeal decisions made about content on Facebook or Instagram. Yesterday, the Board announced it will be taking under consideration a timely and important anti-transgender hate content case (“Post in Polish Targeting Trans People” — full details here).
The case, as summarized by the Oversight Board, is a clear example of anti-trans hate: “In April 2023, a Facebook user in Poland posted an image of a striped curtain in the blue, pink and white colors of the transgender flag. On the image, there is text overlay that says in Polish: ‘New technology. Curtains that hang themselves.’”
In response to multiple requests from users, Facebook’s human content moderators repeatedly determined that the anti-trans content was not in violation of their policies. It was only after the Oversight Board told Meta that they had chosen the case for review, that Meta removed the post. The Board will now take public comments until September 27, and then will adjudicate and issue their recommendations to Meta. While recommendations are not binding, Meta must respond to them within 60 days.
Statement from Sarah Kate Ellis, President & CEO of GLAAD:
“Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg should tell the world today that his company cares about the safety, rights, and dignity of transgender people. This hate on his platforms is causing dangerous and devastating real world harm, from anti-trans legislation to a stark uptick in violence. The weaponization of lies targeting historically marginalized groups has a long and terrible history and the spread of such disgusting bigotry should be vehemently and immediately denounced by Meta as firmly at odds with their company values.”
Statement from Jenni Olson, Senior Director of Social Media Safety at GLAAD:
“Meta’s content moderators should have enforced their policies in the first place. It is a very serious problem that the post was only removed after the Oversight Board alerted them. The post is clearly asserting the horrific sentiment that trans people should kill themselves. While Meta eventually removed the post, this case powerfully illuminates highly consequential systemic failures with the company’s moderation practices that have broad implications in relation to all anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ hate content, as well as even larger implications for such coded hate content that is all too common and targets all historically marginalized groups.”
“Such moderation may be more complex than recognizing basic slurs,” Olson added. “But this is why trust and safety teams must provide adequate training and guidance to their moderators on recognizing anti-trans hate. Meta is fully capable of implementing such training and yet continues to fail to prioritize it, resulting in epidemic levels of overt and coded anti-trans, and anti-LGBTQ hate across their Facebook, Instagram, and Threads platforms.”
GLAAD plans to submit public comment to the Oversight Board for their deliberations on the case, and will continue to advocate that Meta improves enforcement of their policies to better serve the safety, privacy, and expression of their LGBTQ users across all of their platforms. Full details on the case from the Oversight Board can be found here.
In July GLAAD and HRC facilitated an urgent open letter to the platforms from 250+ LGBTQ and ally celebrities and influencers — including Elliot Page, Laverne Cox, Shawn Mendes, Ariana Grande, and Alyssa Milano — demanding that major social media companies stop the pervasive presence of anti-trans hate across their platforms.
As highlighted in GLAAD’s 2023 Social Media Safety Index (SMSI) report, Meta’s Facebook and Instagram are largely failing to mitigate dangerous anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ hate and disinformation, despite such content conflicting with their own policies. The June 2023 SMSI also made the specific recommendation to Meta and others that they better train moderators on the needs of LGBTQ users, and enforce policies around anti-LGBTQ content across all languages, cultural contexts, and regions.
Background on anti-LGBTQ climate in Poland:
- In a 2023 report from ILGA-Europe, Poland was ranked 42nd out of 49 countries in the European Union for LGBTQ equality
- ILGA-Europe’s primary report recommendation to the Polish government is to introduce hate speech and hate crime laws that explicitly cover all anti-LGBTQ bias-motivated crimes.
- The report notes that there is a continuing trend of rising hate speech in Poland, much of it related to trans people, and online hate speech is noted as a serious issue.
Research on online and offline anti-LGBTQ threats and violence:
- GLAAD’s recent Accelerating Acceptance report found that 86% of non-LGBTQ Americans agree that exposure to online hate content leads to real-world violence.
- GLAAD and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)’s Center on Extremism documented more than 350 incidents of harassment, vandalism and assault over an eleven-month period beginning in June 2022, and an additional 145 incidents of anti-LGBTQ hate and extremism nationwide during June 2023 alone.
- A 2022 survey from GLAAD, UltraViolet, Women’s March, and Kairos showed that a majority of Americans report seeing online threats of violence based on race, gender or sexual orientation and also experience harm by witnessing harassment against their communities, even when the posts aren’t about them individually.
All Social Media Platforms Fail on LGBTQ Safety:
The third annual GLAAD Social Media Safety Index (SMSI) & Platform Scorecard was released in June 2023. After reviewing the platforms on 12 LGBTQ-specific indicators, all platforms received low and failing scores:
- Instagram: 63%
- Facebook: 61%
- TikTok: 57%
- YouTube: 54%
- Twitter: 33%
Key findings of the 2023 SMSI included:
- Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric on social media translates to real-world offline harms.
- Social media platforms are largely failing to mitigate this dangerous hate and disinformation and inadequately enforce their own policies.
- There is a lack of true transparency reporting from the platforms.
About the GLAAD Social Media Safety program:
GLAAD’s Social Media Safety program actively researches, monitors, and reports on a variety of issues facing LGBTQ social media users — with a focus on safety, privacy and expression — advocating for solutions in numerous realms. The annual Social Media Safety Index (SMSI) provides recommendations for the industry at large and reports on LGBTQ user safety across the five major social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok. Learn more by reading the annual GLAAD Social Media Safety Index & Platform Scorecard here.
About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.
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