Feb 26, 2021 - Technology

GLAAD's plan to rate social media on safety

Picture of GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis
GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. Photo: GLAAD

GLAAD, a leading LGBTQ rights organization, plans to start rating social media companies based on how well they protect people from abuse, officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: Studies show that LGBTQ youth are three times as likely as their non-LGBTQ peers to be bullied on social media.

Driving the news: While GLAAD's first Social Media Safety Index won't come out until the spring, Ellis doesn't expect it to paint a flattering picture of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms.

  • "We would not be doing this if they were protecting our community," Ellis said. While acknowledging that social media has been a lifeline for LGBTQ people, Ellis said, "It has also been weaponized against our community."

Between the lines: One tricky part of the effort will be figuring out just how to measure the types of abuse inflicted on LGBTQ people on various social media sites. But Ellis notes there are clear policy differences.

  • For example, Twitter has added a policy against intentionally misgendering someone, while such behavior isn't clearly against the rules at Facebook and YouTube.
  • To help craft the criteria, GLAAD has pulled together a team of advisors, including journalists Maria Ressa and Kara Swisher, PlanetOut co-founder and filmmaker Jenni Olsen and academics such as Stanford's Lucy Bernholz and UCLA's Sarah Roberts.
  • Funding for the project comes from Craig Newmark Philanthropies and the Gill Foundation.

What's next: Ellis said she hopes the approach can be adopted by other groups that also face harassment on social media, including women and people of color.

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