Majority of Americans say they have seen threats of online violence based on race, gender or sexuality

Majority of Americans say they have seen threats of online violence based on race, gender or sexuality

The story at a glance

  • Fifty-seven percent of Americans say they have seen online messages calling for physical violence because of an individual’s race, gender or sexuality.

  • Even when threats don’t target them individually, women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people say they’ve been harmed by witnessing harassment against their peers.

  • The survey, conducted by YouGov, was conducted before Elon Musk took over Twitter.

More than half of Americans say they’ve seen social media posts calling for violence against someone because of their race, gender or sexuality, new poll results show, and women and LGBTQ+ people report higher rates of online harassment compared to other groups.

The survey – commissioned by UltraViolet, GLAAD, Kairos and Women’s March – included a sample of over 1,000 social media users, with oversamples of people of color, women and LGBTQ+ respondents.

“The alarming survey results reinforce just how failing social media companies are when it comes to protecting LGBTQ and other marginalized communities online,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. in a press release. GLAAD, which stands for Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, is the largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization in the world.

“At a time when online hate and harassment leads to real-world threats and violence, these companies need to make urgent improvements to the enforcement of content and advertising policies. Everyone deserves to feel safe on social media,” Ellis added.

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The results of the poll, conducted by YouGov, also showed that women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community experience harm from witnessing harassment against their communities, even when the messages do not directly target them individually.

“Meta, Google, TikTok and Twitter can say they value diversity and inclusion, but these results and the lived experiences of countless POCs, women and LGBTQ+ people speak for themselves,” added Bridget Todd, director of communications for UltraViolet, a women’s rights group. .

“Online hate has created violence in the real world, everywhere from El Paso, Texas; Charlottesville, Virginia; Atlanta, Georgia; Buffalo, New York; Boston Children’s Hospital; Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home; and the halls of the United States Capitol in Washington, DC,” Todd said.

Members of marginalized communities are more likely to notice attacks on their community, as 88% of LGBTQ+ people in the sample said they had seen a post attack a member of their community, compared to 64% of the general public.

When it comes to specific attacks based on race, gender or sexuality, 52% of LGBTQ+ respondents said they experienced harassment because of their sexual orientation and 31% because of their gender identity.

Nearly 40% of people of color said they had experienced harassment based on race or ethnicity, compared to 15% of white respondents. A quarter of women have experienced harassment based on appearance, compared to 17% of men.

Overall, more than 60% of all respondents consider hate speech a major problem and nearly one in three Americans think social media platforms do a poor job of addressing online harassment on their Site (s.

A plurality of Americans also believe that online harassment is a major problem on Facebook and Twitter in particular.

“Platforms like TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – as much as they might hope or claim to be, are simply not healthy places for women, people of color or members of the LGBTQ+ community” , said Amanda Chavez Barnes, senior director. Women’s March programs.

“Our online lives are deep and meaningful, but for too many people, harassment and hate are part of the daily user experience. Platforms can and must do better.

The survey was conducted July 7-22, 2022, prior to Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. The CEO has come under fire in the weeks since for his decision to grant amnesty to suspended accounts and mass layoffs that could hamper content moderation.

When it comes to solutions, platform repercussions and accountability were most popular among survey respondents, followed by platforms improving content moderation on their own or enforcing or creating new ones. policies.

However, respondents were more likely to support government regulation of platforms after completing the survey

Moreover, despite the threats they have witnessed, social media users tend to feel ambivalent about their personal risks online, and their general attitudes towards online experiences tend to be positive. Almost half of LGBTQ+ respondents believe they are more free to be themselves online.

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