The astounding failure of Twitter and Meta (Facebook's parent company) to enforce their respective community standards to protect members of the LGBTQ+ community from abuse has been highlighted in a newly published report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) and the Human Rights Campaign. Despite the companies' commitments to tackling hate speech, they not only let it stay in most cases, but they also enjoyed the revenue when it is used in advertisements.
For Twitter, the report considered 989,547 tweets posted between January 1 and July 27 of this year that vilified the LGBTQ+ community by using terms like "groomer", "predator", and "pedophile". The report shows that the number of daily tweets increased by 406 percent following the extremely controversial "Don’t Say Gay or Trans" law in Florida. The average number of hate tweets jumped to 6,607 per day from 1,307, the average for the month before.
The 500 most popular tweets accusing the LGBTQ+ community of being groomers accumulated 399,260 likes and retweets and received 72 million impressions. Tweets from just 10 people make up for 48 million of those impressions. While Twitter claimed that any "grooming" slurs were against its Hateful Conduct policies, an audit from CCDH showed that of 100 hateful tweets reported by the organization to Twitter, only one was taken down.
“On July 21, Twitter made a statement saying that tweets calling transgender or nonbinary people 'groomers' violate its policies on hate speech. In the week following the company’s statement, there were 56,525 tweets mentioning the slurs alongside the LGBTQ+ community – an average of 8,075 per day,” the report states.
When it comes to Meta, the report focused on the ads shared on Facebook and Instagram that claim that the LGBTQ+ community and their allies are grooming children. Meta accepted $24,987 for the ads, which reached 2.1 million users.
Of the 59 ads, 32 focused on Disney, following the media company's opposition to the Florida bill. The ads received 2 million impressions. Meta stated on July 20 that calling members of the LGBTQ+ community groomers was covered by its hate speech policies. As of August 1, the company was still running "grooming ads" on its platforms.
Hate speech on social media and the lack of response from the companies that allow it to run rampant has a very real impact. The last two years have been the deadliest for transgender people – in particular, Black trans women – since the record began. Almost one-in-five hate crimes are motivated by prejudice against LGBTQ+ people. In the current session, legislators in state houses have introduced 344 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, 25 of which passed.
Among the recommendations from the report, the organizations call for the platforms to actually enforce their Community Standards – and when they do not, they should be liable for that harm.