GLAAD’s 2022 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.

As a follow up to the pioneering 2021 SMSI, the 2022 edition of the report introduces a Platform Scorecard developed by GLAAD in partnership with Ranking Digital Rights and Goodwin Simon Strategic Research. The Platform Scorecard utilizes twelve LGBTQ-specific indicators to generate numeric ratings with regard to LGBTQ safety, privacy, and expression. After reviewing the platforms on measures like explicit protections from hate and harassment for LGBTQ users, offering gender pronoun options on profiles, and prohibiting advertising that could be harmful and/or discriminatory to LGBTQ people, all platforms scored under a 50 out of a possible 100:

SUMMARY

In the 2022 SMSI Platform Scorecard, Instagram received a score of 48. In its Community Guidelines, Instagram has a comprehensive protected groups policy that protects users from threats, violence, hate speech, and harassment based on protected characteristics such as sexual orientation and gender identity. The company also discloses limited information on how users can opt out of seeing content based on their disclosed or inferred sexual orientation or gender identity. Meta was the only company to disclose limited information on how its Civil Rights team engages internally to advise policy and product teams on how company policies, products, and services may impact the online rights of marginalized users. The company does not disclose whether it has an LGBTQ policy lead.

However, the company falls short of providing adequate transparency in several key areas. Notably, Instagram has no policy protecting users from targeted deadnaming and misgendering. While the company has a feature allowing users to add pronouns to their user profiles, the company discloses that this option is currently not available to all users. The company also discloses only limited options for users to control who can see their gender pronouns. Instagram also discloses only limited information regarding the options users have to control the company’s collection and inference of user information related to their sexual orientation and gender identity. In its targeted advertising policies, Meta provides that it prohibits targeted advertising based on sensitive topics, including topics related to sexual orientation. However, no similar disclosure was found that indicates the company does not permit detailed targeting based on users’ gender identity.

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Make a policy commitment to protecting transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming users from targeted deadnaming and misgendering: The company should adopt a policy that protects users from targeted deadnaming and misgendering.

  • Provide all users with tools to express their gender identity: The company should make its feature allowing users to add their gender pronouns to their user profiles available to all users and provide more options for users to customize who can see their gender pronouns.

  • Do not allow third party advertisers to target users based on their gender identity: The company should make a commitment to not allowing third party advertisers to target users based on their gender identity.

SUMMARY

In the 2022 SMSI Platform Scorecard, Twitter earned a score of 45. Twitter was one of only two companies evaluated with an existing policy against targeted deadnaming and misgendering. Like the other companies evaluated in this year’s index, Twitter also has a policy protecting LGBTQ users from attacks or threats based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. The company also discloses that it prohibits targeted advertising based on sensitive categories, including sexual orientation and gender idenity. Twitter also prohibits advertising content that could be harmful and/or discriminatory to LGBTQ individuals including “content that promotes claims or services attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. ”The company also makes a public commitment to diversifying its workforce, and publishes data on its LGBTQ workforce that is based on voluntarily self-disclosed data.

However, the company falls short of providing adequate transparency in other key areas. The company does not disclose a feature that gives users an option to add their gender pronouns to their profiles. The company also does not disclose options for users to control the company’s collection of information related to their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Twitter also does not disclose any options for users to control the company’s collection and attempts to infer user information related to their sexual orientation and gender identity. Further, recommendation of content based on users’ disclosed or inferred sexual orientation or gender identity is not off by default. The company also does not disclose any information on whether it requires content moderators to participate in trainings that educate them on the needs of LGBTQ people and other vulnerable users.

While the company discloses that it engages with organizations and groups that advocate on behalf of the LGBTQ community, it does not disclose that it has an LGBTQ policy lead or that it has a formal training in place to educate all employees on the needs of LGBTQ users.

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Provide additional tools for user expression: The company should disclose a voluntary dedicated feature that allows users to add their preferred gender pronouns to their user profiles. In order to ensure user privacy, Twitter should also disclose an option for users to customize who can see their gender pronouns.

  • Give users more control over their own data: Twitter should give users greater control over their own data, including options to control the company’s collection and inference of information related to users’ sexual orientation and gender identity.

  • Implement commitment to LGBTQ expression and privacy across the company: In order to ensure that the needs of LGBTQ users are implemented across the company’s products and services, Twitter should have an LGBTQ policy lead and provide evidence of formal trainings that educate all employees to understand the needs of LGBTQ users.

SUMMARY

In the 2022 SMSI Platform Scorecard, Facebook received a score of 46. In its Community Guidelines, Facebook discloses a comprehensive policy that protects users from threats, violence, hate speech, and harassment based on protected characteristics such as sexual orientation and gender identity. The company also discloses limited information on how users can control the content they see based on their disclosed or inferred sexual orientation or gender identity. Meta was one of only two companies to disclose information on its trainings for content moderators. The company’s policies also contain a clear prohibition of advertising content that could be harmful and/or discriminatory to LGBTQ individuals.

However, the company’s policies do not adequately protect LGBTQ expression and privacy in several key areas. Facebook currently has no policy protecting users from targeted deadnaming and misgendering. According to the company’s policies, Facebook’s feature to add gender pronouns to user profiles is only available for users who select a custom gender and select one or more genders. The company also discloses only limited options for users to control the company’s collection and inference of user information related to their sexual orientation and gender identity. In its targeted advertising policies, Meta provides that it prohibits targeted advertising based on sensitive topics, including topics related to sexual orientation. However, no similar disclosure was found that indicates the company does not permit detailed targeting based on users’ gender identity. The company only publishes limited data about the actions it has taken to restrict content and accounts that violate policies protecting LGBTQ individuals (independent researchers such as Media Matters have also pointed to problems related to enforcement of these policies).

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Make a policy commitment to protect transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming users from targeted deadnaming and misgendering: The company should adopt a policy that protects users from targeted deadnaming and misgendering.

  • Do not target users with advertising based on their gender identity: The company should disclose that it does not allow third party advertisers to target users based on their gender identity.

  • Publish comprehensive data on how policies protecting LGBTQ users are enforced: The company should regularly publish data about the actions it has taken to enforce policies protecting LGBTQ users.


SUMMARY

In the 2022 SMSI Platform Scorecard, YouTube earned a score of 45. YouTube discloses a policy that protects users from hate speech, harassment, and cyberbullying based on protected attributes, including sexual orientation and gender identity. As is true of other platforms, independent researchers report that enforcement of these policies is often lacking. The company provides limited transparency on options that users have to control the company’s processing of information related to their sexual orientation and gender identity. Alphabet also discloses some information on how users can control the recommended content they see on YouTube. The company also discloses that it prohibits targeted advertising based on sensitive categories, including sexual orientation and gender idenity. The company also prohibits advertising content that could be harmful and/or discriminatory to LGBTQ individuals.

However, the company falls short of providing adequate transparency in several key areas. For example, it provides only limited information on user control over the company’s collection and inference of user information related to sexual orientation and gender identity. Despite advocates and LGBTQ creators raising concern over the removal and demonetization of LGBTQ-related content from ad services on YouTube, Alphabet only provides limited transparency on the state of demonetization and removal of LGBTQ creators and their content. The company does not disclose a comprehensive plan outlining concrete steps to address demonetization, filtering, and removal of LGBTQ creators. The company’s transparency reports provide no data giving insights into removal and demonetization of LGBTQ creators from ad services. The company also does not disclose whether it has an LGBTQ policy lead or internal trainings in place that educate its employees to understand the needs of LGBTQ users.

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Make a policy commitment to protect transgender, non-binary, and non-conforming users from targeted deadnaming and misgendering: The company should adopt a policy that protects users from targeted deadnaming and misgendering and removes such dehumanizing anti-trans content.

  • Show greater commitment to addressing demonetization and wrongful removal of LGBTQ creators and their content: The company should disclose comprehensive information on the concrete steps it takes to minimize wrongful demonetization and removal of legitimate content related to LGBTQ issues from ad services. The company should also disclose comprehensive data on the wrongful removal of LGBTQ creators and their content and accounts.

  • Implement commitment to LGBTQ expression and privacy across the company: In order to ensure that the needs of LGBTQ users are attended to across the company’s products and services, Alphabet should have an LGBTQ policy lead who advises policy and product teams on the needs of LGBTQ and other vulnerable users.

SUMMARY

In the 2022 SMSI Platform Scorecard, TikTok earned a score of 43. TikTok was one of only two companies evaluated with an existing policy against targeted deadnaming and misgendering, and the only company to provide comprehensive information on how it detects violations to this policy. The company also discloses a comprehensive policy protecting LGBTQ users from other attacks, threats, and violence on the platform. The company discloses a feature allowing users to add their gender pronouns to their profiles. TikTok was one of only two companies disclosing any information on trainings that educate content moderators on the needs of vulnerable users.

However, the company falls short of providing adequate transparency on other key issues. The company currently does not disclose options for users to control the company’s collection of information related to their sexual orientation and gender identity. The company also provides only limited options for users to control the recommend content they see based on their disclosed or inferred sexual orientation or gender identity. Rather than an outright ban of targeted advertising based on user’s sexual orientation and gender identity, limitations on ad targeting based on users’ sexual orientation depend on local laws.

While the company discloses that it engages with organizations and groups that advocate on behalf of the LGBTQ community, it does not disclose that it has an LGBTQ policy lead or that it has a formal training in place that educates all employees to understand the needs of LGBTQ users. Notably, TikTok was the only company that did not disclose any information on steps it takes to diversify its workforce.

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Give users control over their own data: TikTok should give users control over their own data, including options to control the company’s collection and inference of information related to users’ sexual orientation and gender identity.

  • Ban targeted advertising based on sexual orientation and gender identity: The company should ban third party advertising based on users’ sexual orientation and gender identity.

  • Make a commitment to diversify TikTok’s workforce: The company should disclose a public commitment to taking proactive steps to diversify its workforce, and publish data that shows it follows up on this commitment.