GLAAD released its second annual Social Media Safety Index (SMSI) & Platform Scorecard this week, and every major social media platform assessed received unequivocally abysmal ratings. Twitter, however, far and away took the honor of last place, receiving a score of just 33 out of 100—reportedly down 12 points from last year’s rating.The rest of the platform’s cohort also failed GLAAD’s parameters: Instagram (63/100), Facebook (61/100), TikTok (57/100), and YouTube (54/100).
First unveiled in 2022, the SMSI was developed in partnership with watchdog organization Ranking Digital Rights as well as the independent public opinion firm Goodwin Simon Strategic Research. Each year, the SMSI Platform Scorecard evaluates the LGBTQ safety, expression, and privacy capabilities of TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter based on a set of 12 indicators. These areas include clearly disclosing options to control a platform’s collection, inference, and use of data related to users’ sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as the inclusion of a policy commitment to protect users from harm, discrimination, harassment, and hate speech. Last year, the inaugural SMSI report described major social media sites as “categorically unsafe” for LGBTQ users.
Speaking with Axios earlier this week, GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis explained how these five social media platforms play an outsized role in the online spread of hate and misinformation. “They literally control the on and off buttons of live hatred against marginalized communities,” Ellis said, adding that digital oppression has very real consequences.
“It’s as if lawmakers and lobbyists are lifting the language from these platforms and are looking to them for guidance on how to further marginalize the LGBTQ community,” Ellis continued.
In its sourcing, the SMSI report cites extensive documentation detailing the direct links between anti-LGBTQ social media content and violent, real world impacts. In one referenced example, sustained misinformation campaigns from a popular anti-LGBTQ social media account resulted in bomb and death threats to members of the medical community based on patently false information.
GLAAD’s report explains that Twitter’s particularly low rating stems in part from a reversal on banning deadnaming and misgendering users within its “Hateful Conduct” policy. Additionally, the platform failed to publish a Diversity Report disclosing data regarding the company’s LGBTQ employees. In a statement provided to Axios on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Twitter wrote, “[W]e know the public conversation only reaches its full potential when every community feels safe and comfortable participating. We’ve engaged with GLAAD to better understand their recommendations and are committed to an open dialogue to better inform our work to support LGBTQ safety.”
Since purchasing Twitter in October 2022, Elon Musk has made countless transphobic and misinformed statements regarding the LGBTQ community. PopSci can confirm Twitter’s press email account still auto-responds with the “Poop” emoji at the time of writing.