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Report: Meta fails to remove anti-trans posts from its platforms

GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ+ media advocacy group, claims that Meta’s content moderation system is allowing an “epidemic of anti-transgender hate” to flourish on its platform. A new report published by the group says Meta has allowed dozens of anti-trans posts — including ones that call for violence against private individuals — to stay online. The organization says that LGBTQ+ people “experience an increasing number of well-documented real-world harms” due to “propaganda campaigns, driven by the anti-LGBTQ extremists that Meta allows to flourish on its platforms.”

The report documents several examples of anti-trans content posted to Facebook, Instagram, and Threads between June 2023 and March of this year, all of which GLAAD reported via Meta’s “standard platform reporting systems.” Some of the posts used hateful anti-trans slurs, while others — including an Instagram post depicting a person being beaten with stones that have been replaced by the laughing emoji — call transgender people “demonic” and “satanic.” Several posts accuse transgender people of being “sexual predators,” “perverts,” and “groomers,” which, in recent years, has been used as an anti-LGBTQ+ slur. 

According to GLAAD’s findings, Meta often fails to remove posts that violate its own hate speech policies. After GLAAD flagged posts that violated Meta’s hate speech policies, “Meta either replied that posts were not violative or simply did not take action on them,” the report reads.

Some of the posts were made by prominent accounts, including Libs of TikTok, which is run by far-right influencer Chaya Raichik. Raichik has become a fixture in conservative school board politics in recent years. In January, she was appointed to Oklahoma’s state library advisory committee. The report claims a “prominent anti-LGBTQ extremist account” created Facebook and Instagram posts attacking a gender nonconforming elementary school teacher in Kitsap, Washington, after which the school received a bomb threat. The news article cited in the report identifies the account as Raichik’s.

“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 to The Washington Post.

Meta has not only allowed this content to stay on its social media platforms but has also profited from it: a 2022 Media Matters report found that Meta had run at least 150 ads on its platforms accusing people of being “groomers.” That year, Meta told the Daily Dot that making baseless accusations that LGBTQ+ people are groomers is a violation of its hate speech policies. Meta suspended the “Gays Against Groomers” Facebook account last September but later restored it. Meta told the Daily Dot that the suspension was the result of a platform error.

In January, Meta’s Oversight Board overturned the company’s decision not to remove a post encouraging transgender people to commit suicide. The board noted that 11 different users had reported the post 12 times, but Meta’s automated systems only prioritized two of those posts for human review. Both of the reviewers “assessed it as non-violating and did not escalate it further.” The post was only removed after the board officially took up the appeal.

The issue, the board claimed, was not that Meta didn’t have adequate policies against hate speech but that it failed to enforce them. The board found that the person behind the original post had previously harassed trans people online and had created a new Facebook account after being suspended in the past. “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,” the board wrote.

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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