GLAAD calls on Meta to enforce its policies against anti-LGBT posts - The Washington Post

notion image
Advocacy group GLAAD says efforts to persuade Meta to do more to tamp down anti-trans posts have been unsuccessful. (Thibault Camus/AP)
The LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD issued a report Wednesday documenting dozens of anti-trans posts on Facebook, Instagram and Threads, Meta’s primary social media outlets, and calling on the company to better enforce its policies against such posts.
Some of the posts were made by high-profile political influencers and media outlets.
Posts catalogued by GLAAD included calls for the violent extermination of transgender people as well as descriptions of trans and gender nonconforming people as “satanic,” “sexual predators,” “terrorists,” “mentally ill” and “perverts.” The report said the posts are just a sample of the rhetoric GLAAD’s social media safety program monitors every day. GLAAD said its efforts to persuade Meta to do more to tamp down such posts have been unsuccessful.
“For years, LGBTQ organizations have pleaded with Meta to improve safety for our communities, especially for transgender people,” Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “ … As LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities continue to experience real-world harms stemming from these anti-LGBTQ accounts with large followings, we continue to call for Meta to share a plan to address the epidemic of anti-trans hate and violence on its platforms.”
GLAAD said Meta allowing this sort of anti-trans rhetoric to spread on its platform contributes to offline threats and attacks on trans people. “Meta itself acknowledges in its public statements and in its own policies that hate speech ‘creates an environment of intimidation and exclusion, and in some cases may promote offline violence,’” GLAAD said in a statement about the report. “Such acknowledgements of its own culpability make Meta’s negligence and refusal to protect people from such hate … all the more shocking.”
Follow Election 2024
GLAAD’s report comes as many LGBTQ content creators say their reach is being limited because of Meta’s new restrictions on political content, which includes social issues and LGBQT+ rights. Alok Vaid-Menon, a nonbinary content creator, author and comedian in New York who is on GLAAD’s social media safety program advisory committee, said: “I have experienced an uptick of ant- trans harassment, slurs, dehumanizing tropes and violent threats. I brought this up to Meta plenty of times, and the response that we’re always given is, you know, you can block these individuals.”
“There’s a failure to recognize that this is a systemic problem,” Vaid-Menon added. “The onus is put on individual users to block rather than on the perpetrators of this violence who are directly violating Meta’s own preexisting policies.”
In September, Facebook’s Oversight Board, which acts as Meta’s ombudsman, lambasted the company’s failure to enforce rules against anti-trans hate and threats. In a ruling on an incident referred to as “Post in Polish Targeting Trans People,” the board wrote that “the fundamental issue in this case is not with the policies, but their enforcement. Meta’s repeated failure to take the correct enforcement action, despite multiple signals about the post’s harmful content, leads the Board to conclude the company is not living up to the ideals it has articulated on LGBTQIA+ safety.”
In a February statement, Meta acknowledged that its monitors had made a mistake in not taking enforcement action on the post. “Upon initial review, Meta left this content up. However, upon further review, we determined the content did in fact violate our policy on Hate Speech, as laid out in the Facebook Community Standards, and was left up in error. We therefore removed the content,” the company said.
And in June, GLAAD, the LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, and more than 250 LGBTQ+ celebrities, public figures and allies signed an open letter calling on Meta to do a better job of protecting against anti-trans hate. The letter said false narratives about trans people being “groomers” and sexual predators were leading to escalating harassment of prominent trans and nonbinary figures on Instagram. Celebrities including Elliot Page, Laverne Cox, Jamie Lee Curtis, Shawn Mendes, Janelle Monáe, Gabrielle Union, Judd Apatow and Ariana Grande signed the letter.
GLAAD said that nine months later, the company still hasn’t taken sufficient action to curb the abuse. All posts that GLAAD representatives reported to Meta through its standard reporting tools were found either not violative or no action was taken on them.
In one Instagram post cited in the report, a trans person’s body is shown twisted on the ground while being beaten to death with stones, which have been replaced with the laughing emoji. The caption reads: “[trans flag] people are devils.”
The report also cited an hour-long video posted by a far-right group called Media Research Center with 1.7 million followers. In the video, Brittany Hughes, the host of the “Brittany Hughes Show” podcast, which has 3.2 million followers on Facebook, describes trans people as pedophiles “grooming children.”
Right-wing media outlets and podcasters — including Matt Walsh, the account Gays Against Groomers, Chaya Raichik’s Libs of TikTok and the Babylon Bee — contributed to anti-trans hate, according to the report.
GLAAD said it hopes the report draws Meta’s attention to its insufficient enforcement of the company’s policies.