More than half of Americans say they’ve seen a social media threat this year

Person viewing hate and threats online.
Person viewing hate and threats online. Photo credit Getty Images

A new poll examining online threats has found that more than half of Americans have seen posts calling for violence against people because of their gender, race, or sexuality.

The YouGov poll was commissioned by UltraViolet, GLADD, Kairos, and Women’s March. It found that women and LGTBQ people reported seeing higher rates of online harassment than any other group.

The survey included a sample of 1,000 social media users with oversamples of people of color, women, and LGBTQ respondents.

Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, shared in a statement that the results from the survey were shocking.

“The alarming poll results reinforce just how badly social media companies are failing when it comes to protecting LGBTQ and other marginalized communities online,” Ellis said in a statement.

Ellis added that everyone deserves to feel safe on social media, but for certain groups safety is a major concern.

“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,” Ellis said.

The findings from the survey suggest that marginalized communities, like women, people of color, and LGBTQ people, are witnessing harassment even when they aren’t the subject directly.

In total, 88% of LGBTQ people reported seeing a post attacking a member of their community, while 64% of the general public reported seeing something.

While harassment is being seen by many, a Pew Research poll from last year found that a hefty number of users have been a victim of the harassment, not just noticing it. The poll found 41% of respondents had experienced online harassment in some way, and another 25% experienced more severe harassment.

Hate speech has become increasingly common, and 60% of respondents believe it is a serious issue. As for how they are addressed, a third of Americans think social media companies are not doing a good job of stopping harassment online.

The survey was conducted this summer, from July 7-22, 2022, prior to Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover. Although, even before Musk’s acquisition, Twitter and Facebook were named by respondents as platforms where harassment was a major problem.

Amanda Chavez Barnes, the director of programs at Women’s March, shared with The Hill that most platforms are not safe for those in marginalized communities.

“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, ” Barnes said.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images