New Poll: 57% of Americans Have Seen Online Calls for Violence Against Someone for Their Race, Gender, or Sexuality

A new report commissioned by UltraViolet, GLAAD, Kairos, and Women’s March shows that women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people experience higher levels of harassment and threats of violence social media than other users. The report, From URL to IRL: The Impact of Social Media on People of Color (POC), Women, and LGBTQ+ Communities, discusses the findings of a nationally-representative sample of American social media users (n = 1,235) in addition to to oversamples of people of color, women, and LGBTQ+ respondents.

Among other key findings, this poll shows that 57% of people have seen posts calling for physical violence based on a person’s race, gender, or sexuality. Additionally, the LGBTQ+ people and women report higher rates of harassment than other groups.  The report also found that women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people experience harm by witnessing harassment against their communities, even if they are not directly targeted themselves.

Some of the poll’s key findings include:

  • Individuals who belong to a marginalized community tend to notice attacks against their community more than non-marginalized groups notice against that specific community.
    • 88% of respondents in the LGBTQ+ sample report having seen a post that insults or attacks LGBTQ+ individuals
    • Only 64% of respondents in the base sample do have seen the same.
  • Personal identity influences how respondents experience harassment in online spaces:
    • 52% of LGBTQ+ respondents said they have experienced harassment based on their sexual orientation while only about 14%of the base sample said the same.
    • 31% of LGBTQ+ people have been harassed due to their gender identity; just 12% of the base sample experienced the same.
    • 38% of people of color reported facing race- or ethnicity-based harassment; only 15% of white respondents said the same. 25% of women reported experiencing appearance-based harassment; 17% of men did.
  • 61% of respondents in the base sample believe hate speech is a major problem
    LGBTQ+ people are 14% more likely than the general population to say that hateful speech is a problem in online spaces.
  • Women are 19% more likely to say hate speech is problematic.
  • Nearly one in three Americans overall, women, and POC respondents said that social media platforms are doing a poor job at addressing online harassment on their sites, while almost two in five LGBTQ+ respondents said the same.

A plurality of respondents in the base sample said that online harassment is a major problem on Facebook and Twitter. UltraViolet, GLAAD, Kairos, and Women’s March urge social media platforms to improve comment moderation and reporting mechanisms, mitigate hateful conduct, threats of violence, and stop spread of disinformation

“Meta, Google, TikTok, and Twitter can say they value diversity and inclusion but these results and the lived experiences of countless POC, women, and LGBTQ+ people speak for themselves,” said Bridget Todd, communications director for UltraViolet. “Social media companies are failing POC, women, and LGBTQ+ communities. As a Black woman with a prominent online presence, I experience harassment regularly and this study shows that I am not alone in this experience. Online hate has created real-world violence, everywhere from El Paso, Texas; Charlottesville, Virginia; Atlanta, Georgia, Buffalo, New York; the Boston Children’s Hospital; the home of Speaker Nancy Pelosi; and the halls of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The white wealthy men like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk who own these platforms don’t share these experiences of being harassed regularly because of their gender, sexuality, race, or nationality. They profit from spreading white supremacy, misogyny, transphobia, and homophobia without any accountability. We remain adamant about encouraging stark improvements of comment moderation, banning hateful language, threats of violence and disinformation from all social media platforms. If the platforms cannot regulate themselves, then the government should.”

“The alarming poll results reinforce just how badly social media companies are failing when it comes to protecting LGBTQ and other marginalized communities online,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “At a time when online hate and harassment is leading to real world threats and violence, these companies must make urgent improvements to enforcement of content and ad policies. Everyone deserves to feel safe on social media.”

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

“Our lives online are parallel to our offline lives. We have been in a moment when more and more people are using the internet to connect with each other and get information. But at the same time we’re also seeing how online hate speech and harassment result in offline violence. These polling results show the consequences of social media companies not doing enough to protect the users that make or break their platforms. It’s past time for these companies to make the decision to protect Black and brown communities, LGBTQ+ people, and women.” said Mariana Ruiz Firmat, Executive Director of Kairos.

VIEW THE FULL SURVEY FINDINGS HERE: https://weareuv.us/yougovmemo 

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