LGBTQ+ censorship on social media must end

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Selleris a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Lauren Zoltick, Director of Performance Marketing at story blocks.

In 1987, GLAAD persuaded The New York Times to change its editorial policy and begin including the word “gay” in its publication. Over 30 years later, the media landscape has changed dramatically, yet we are still struggling to say gay.

The queer community is more powerful than you think. In fact, it constitutes a substantial percentage of the economy of 50 million creators. We are the fastest growing minority group in the United States, representing over 20% of Gen Z. We already have over $1.4 trillion in purchasing power. And when you consider our history, from the AIDS epidemic to Stonewall, our commitment to protecting and loving each other goes far beyond dollars and numbers.

Yet to date, social platforms have not fully embraced and supported our community. On popular social networks like Facebook and TikTok, queer creators are facing censorship and potential legislation limit their rights.

Creator and LGBTQ+ activist Shannon Beveridge (she thinkssocial media platforms have failed to realize the true power of the queer community,” adding, “in my own experience, I have some of the most loyal followers on social media. I went out WITH my followers; I grew up WITH my followers. The relationship we have with each other is deeper than just shared interests.

If social media platforms understood the true value and influence of queer creators, we wouldn’t be fighting for more positive representation and safe spaces. We wouldn’t have to fight biased censorship and pay disparities. If social platforms want to build and maintain our powerful community, they should take the following steps:

1. Recognize the impact of censorship on queer creators

Social networks want creators to create content that appeals to audiences. In turn, brands pay for ad space to reach those audiences, and social platforms create funds for creators using those ad dollars to incentivize creators to keep producing content. These funds are most often distributed based on audience or engagement metrics.

If a social platform censors or limits the reach of queer creators, especially queer trans and black female creators, it is unfairly limiting their earnings from the creators’ fund.

For many queer creators, “it’s their only income”, according to an LGBTQ+ creator Maximum margin (he they). “By discriminating them unfairly for content that is [equally] or less invasive than … cis or cishet [content]you are actively harming them.

2. Change biased algorithms that censor safe content but miss hate speech

Social platforms often flag content as “not suitable for ads” simply because it uses the words “lesbian”, “gay”, “trans” or “bisexual”.

At the same time, however, hate speech goes unnoticed. “I have comments on my Instagram posts that say things like, ‘kill yourself, [derogatory slur]’ and I report them and they don’t find any violations,” says Slack.

Slack believes social media “can do better by educating support teams and adjusting the systems they use.” They add, “I’ve worked in technology for a very long time and I understand how difficult it is to run an effective and non-discriminatory platform. But that’s no excuse. »

3. Increase positive representation of underrepresented and marginalized communities

Censored content is often helpful for gay people struggling with self-acceptance. And the families and friends of queer people who struggle to accept them also need to see this positive portrayal. “Positive representation is lacking on social platforms. That’s what a lot of queer creators are trying to do, but we’re being held back by censorship,” Slack says.

Given the onslaught of anti-trans bills and the rise of racism and transphobia, the people who seem to be censored the most are producing the content we need the most. Content featuring trans joy is more important than ever.

“These algorithms are really suss,” says culture and fashion designer jade fox (she she). “I noticed that they are black creators, [especially] Black woman [being suppressed].” According to Beveridge, “we lack intersectionality across all platforms. Not only are social platforms not collaborating or nurturing these creators, they are also censoring them. »

Here’s hoping…

I hope social media will start heeding the pleas of queer creators and realize the impact of their censorship, not only on their own platforms, but on the world at large. Until they do, I leave you with the powerful words of the writer, performer and speaker OK (they they):

“Previously, it was illegal for gender non-conforming people to even exist in public. Sometimes people were arrested over twenty times just for what they were wearing. Nevertheless, our community continued to be visible against all odds. For centuries they’ve done their best to make us disappear, but it never worked, and it never will. Why? Because we love ourselves and each other more than they can ever hate us. And that’s what it means to be proud.

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