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LGBTQ+ people have been arrested through social media. Meta must protect them, says human rights groups

LGBTQ person social media phone apps
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Human Rights Watch and other LGBTQ+ rights groups are calling on Meta to prevent social media from being used against queer people, particularly in places where their identities are criminalized.

LGBTQ+ rights organizations are calling on Meta to do more to meaningfully protect the safety of queer people using their platforms, especially those in places where their identities are criminalized.

Human Rights Watch, alongside Social Media Exchange, INSM Foundation for Digital Rights, Helem, and Damj Association launched the #SecureOurSocials campaign Tuesday in an effort to pressure the company behind Facebook and Instagram to both do more to protect LGBTQ+ as well as be more transparent with their data and content moderation.

The campaign comes after a previous HRW report found that law enforcement used social media platforms to "entrap and harass" LGBTQ+ people, and to gather evidence against them for prosecution. This digital targeting led to the "arbitrary detention and torture" of queer people in at least five countries: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia.

“As the largest social media company in the world, Meta should be a global leader in making social media safe for everyone,” Rasha Younes, acting LGBT rights deputy director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “When LGBT people, who already face insecurity offline, use Facebook and Instagram for connection and organizing, they deserve certainty that Meta is doing everything in its power to ensure their security.”

Some LGBTQ+ people who faced harassment online reported losing their jobs; being subjected to family violence, including conversion practices; and having to change their place of residence or even flee their country. Many reported being harassed, doxxed, outed, and abused on Facebook and Instagram, but Meta refused to remove the reported content in every single case.

#SecureOurSocials calls on Meta to disclose its annual investment in user safety and security, including "reasoned justifications explaining how trust and safety investments are proportionate to the risk of harm, for each region, language, and dialect in the Middle East and North Africa."

“Meta has underinvested in user safety and underestimated the role its platforms play in facilitating abuses against LGBT people in [these regions],” Younes continued. “Meta should always be accountable for the security of users on its platforms, but especially when it can protect them from egregious harm.”

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Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at the Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel 'Someone Else's Stars', and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a staff writer at the Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel 'Someone Else's Stars', and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.