None of the major social media companies are excelling at preventing harassment and abuse against women on their sites, but some like Reddit and Twitter are faring better than others, according to a new report by an advocacy group shared exclusively with The Technology 202.
Developed by feminist group Ultraviolet, in collaboration with researchers at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue think tank, the “misogyny report card” gave platforms including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok subpar-to-failing grades for not taking greater steps to shore up their policies against harmful treatment of women. That’s especially the case for women of color, Ultraviolet wrote, who “face an onslaught of both racist and misogynist attacks, including vicious gendered disinformation campaigns.”
“Across the board, social media platforms fail the test when it comes to creating an internet experience that is safe and inclusive for Black women, women of color, and LGBTQ people,” Ultraviolent wrote in its findings, released Wednesday, which dozens of advocacy groups are rallying around to call for policy changes.
The report card, which assigned sites letter grades from A to F based on how thoroughly they have implemented recommendations that groups say are needed to curb gendered abuse, gave top overall marks to Reddit with a C and Twitter with a C-.
The group credited Reddit and Twitter with having “fairly robust” policies against hate speech, but say the platforms should expand their policies against gender-related forms of disinformation, including about “abortion, pregnancy, eating disorders, and extreme dieting.” They also praised Reddit for partnering with a mental health text line that helps victims of harassment or abuse.
“Reddit, the platform once known as a haven for white supremacy and misogyny, has set itself apart as an industry leader in the last two years by making robust changes to its hate speech policies, as well as to moderation and enforcement,” they wrote.
Facebook and Instagram drew the lowest marks, with a D- and an F, while TikTok and Google-owned YouTube fell in between, earning a D+ and a D, respectively.
The group called Facebook’s enforcement of its policies against harassment and disinformation “slow” and said the company “fails victims of harassment by putting the burden on them to report each individual post and user.” And they argued that Instagram needs to do more to differentiate its policies from Facebook to address problems that are more pronounced on video- and image-based platforms, such as body image issues.
Feminist advocates said the incident served as a reminder of how social networks are failing women, including high-profile users like Ocasio-Cortez.
“While it’s no secret that social media platforms can be toxic places for women of color, Gosar’s perpetuation [of] violence against Rep. Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter is completely unacceptable,” Bridget Todd, communications director at UltraViolet, said in a statement Tuesday.
UltraViolet and 74 other advocacy groups and nonprofits including Color of Change, MoveOn and Media Matters called on all six social media networks in a letter to adopt new policies to mitigate risks to women on their sites.