LGBTQ Content Filtering: Update #7

Although I have learned a lot from this project, there are still so many issues I did not have time to fully look into.

Although there is monetized content on Facebook besides advertisements, there have not been as many reports of content demonetization here as on other platforms. Notably being Youtube and its owner Google, many times LGBTQ content has been flagged as either sexual or vaguely “not suitable for advertisers.” LGBTQ creators make content for educational purposes, for children and adolescents questioning their gender identity/sexuality, and for the general public, among other purposes. This issue impacts the ability of these creators to continue their livelihood and serve the community. Also, there is currently a class action lawsuit launched against the two platforms by a group dubbing themselves the “Rainbow Coalition,” for unfair demonetization of their content. This video by the plaintiffs explains why they are suing Youtube and Google. Although there are many news articles on this phenomenon, there is still a lack of published formal academic research that would provide a more general scope and analysis of this bias.

Additionally, the search algorithms used by social media platforms have had issues with either LGBTQ content not showing or hate speech showing up in search results. Both Twitter and Tumblr have had problems in the past with not showing results for terms like “bisexual” or “transgender,” as they were automatically associated to be sexually explicit. Although they are now removed, the Yelp platform has had issues with letting transphobic terms like “Tranny Bars” and “Shemale Clubs” show up in search queries.

Finally, cyberbullying is still a problem on social media, and members of the LGBTQ community are still disproportionately affected. According to a 2017 study by anti-bullying group Ditch the Label, 37% of people between 12 and 20 who had been bullied were bullied on Facebook. Although Facebook is no longer quite the frontrunner, a 2013 study found that “87% of teenagers who’d been bullied reporting that it’d happened on Facebook.” Although it has not been implemented, researchers at MIT developed BullySpace, a “common sense knowledge base that encodes particular knowledge about bullying situations.” Essentially, its an automatic way of understanding when cyberbullying is happening and suggesting reactions/dialogue prompts as a way of curbing it. 

Although these are not the only issues affecting the LGBTQ community on social media, the situation has been improving as companies realize how important tackling these problems are.