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    2024 Social Media Safety Index

    Fighting Hate and Lies: Recent Progress On Two Key LGBTQ Safety Protections

    Since the first SMSI was released in 2021, GLAAD’s Social Media Safety Program has been advocating for platforms to update their policies to include additional protections for LGBTQ safety. While there are many areas for improvement, two specific policy additions (the prohibition of targeted misgendering and deadnaming, and banning the promotion of so-called “conversion therapy”)[1] have been an especially significant area of focus. In 2022, GLAAD and UltraViolet worked with TikTok to have the platform add both of these protections. This past year, the Social Media Safety Program staff have worked extensively with many platforms, apps, and companies on these important policy areas. Companies adopting one or both of the policies in recent months include: Snapchat, Discord, Post, Spoutible, Grindr, IFTAS (the non-profit supporting the Fediverse moderator community), and (Mastodon’s largest server).

    A pair of major GLAAD reports released in February 2024 document and explore the current state of these two important LGBTQ safety policy protections that GLAAD’s Social Media Safety Program advocates as best practices for the industry.

    Which platforms prohibit targeted misgendering and deadnaming?
    GLAAD’s Social Media Safety Program
    Which platforms prohibit harmful “conversion therapy” content?
    GLAAD’s Social Media Safety Program

    A sequence of articles in The Advocate celebrated the policy adoptions as “pivotal,” and in a February 2024 announcement, IFTAS explained the importance of the policies: “Due to the widespread and insidious nature of expressing anti-transgender sentiments in bad faith, it’s imperative to have specific policy addressing this issue. This approach is considered a best practice for two key reasons: it offers clear guidance to users, and it assists moderators in recognizing and understanding the intent behind such statements. It’s important to reiterate that the focus is not about accidentally getting someone’s pronouns wrong. Rather, our concern centers on deliberate and targeted acts of hate and harassment.”

    About Harmful So-Called “Conversion Therapy” Content

    In its January 2024 report, Conversion Therapy Online: The Ecosystem in 2023, the Global Project Against Hate & Extremism (GPAHE) observes that: “there is worldwide agreement among medical and psychological professionals that conversion therapy is dangerous and causes harm to LGBTQ+ individuals.” As noted above, there is broad consensus and building momentum toward protecting LGBTQ people, and especially LGBTQ youth, from this dangerous practice. However the promotion of such services continues to be widespread on social media platforms, via both organic content and advertising. While the GPAHE report cites that some platforms have made improvements in their mitigations of this content over the past year, they note that “GPAHE found deficiencies on all of the tech and social media platforms in its 2023 research.” There are many examples of simple solutions that platforms can and should urgently implement. For instance, GPAHE’s recommendations include: investing more in non-English language moderation, expanding the use of contextual authoritative information panels that accurately characterize “conversion therapy,” and incorporating other common terms for such practices (such as: “unwanted same-sex attraction”) into moderation algorithms to identify and mitigate violative content.

    About Targeted Misgendering and Deadnaming

    Civil society groups, including GLAAD and Media Matters, have identified the practice of targeted misgendering and deadnaming as a form of hate speech. In recent years it has become one of the most common modalities of high-follower anti-LGBTQ accounts for expressing contempt and hate toward transgender and nonbinary people across major social media platforms. It is notably utilized to bully, mock, and harass prominent trans public figures (Geena Rocero, Admiral Rachel Levine, Dylan Mulvaney, 16-year-old Zaya Wade to name a few). Targeting well-known people serves to escalate visibility and engagement on posts, and express general hatred of all trans and nonbinary people and the LGBTQ community as a whole. A particularly egregious example of this practice is a July 2022 YouTube video in which far-right ideologue Jordan Peterson (known for his virulent anti-LGBTQ extremism) viciously misgenders and deadnames actor Elliot Page dozens of times in the course of a 15-minute rant. YouTube demonetized — but didn’t remove — the video, which has 3.5 million views, for violating its “advertising policies around hateful and derogatory content.” At some point in the past few months YouTube added one of their standard contextual debunking info panels to a similar Peterson video (which also features egregious anti-trans rhetoric, including references to so-called “conversion therapy”). The info panel, which is an example of one of GLAAD’s recommended best practices for mitigating harmful content and which GLAAD had repeatedly urged YouTube to add, explains that: “Conversion therapy refers to a range of dangerous and discredited practices aimed at changing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.” The March 2024 Media Matters report mentioned above reveals that “Right-wing YouTubers and Daily Wire personalities with millions of subscribers regularly misgender and deadname trans people in content with ads” and notes that both creators and YouTube continue to profit from such hate.

    For a deeper understanding of the need for these policies, and to see more details on which platforms have adopted them, please read the full GLAAD reports: All Social Media Platform Policies Should Recognize Targeted Misgendering and Deadnaming as Hate Speech and All Social Media Platforms Should Have Policy Prohibitions Against Harmful So-Called “Conversion Therapy” Content.

    [1] Targeted misgendering and deadnaming of transgender and nonbinary people (i.e. intentionally using the wrong pronouns or using a former name to harass or express contempt); and harmful so-called “conversion therapy” (the widely condemned practice of attempting to change an LGBTQ person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, which has been banned or restricted in dozens of countries and US states).

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