More than half of LGBTQ+ users are leaving social media due to safety concerns, survey finds

LGBTQ users leaving social media

More than half of LGBTQ+ social media users are turning their backs on mainstream platforms over toxicity and safety concerns, a new report indicates.

Communia – the world’s first social media platform for women and marginalised genders – published its “exposé on women’s and marginalised genders’ social media experiences” report on Monday (10 July). 

The research, which was conducted between 20-22 June 2023, surveyed 2,058 women and marginalised genders – including 237 LGBTQ+ people – in the UK who are current or past users of social media. 

The survey saw almost two in three (60 per cent) of LGBTQ+ respondents state that they are turning their backs on mainstream social platforms due to safety concerns or toxic environments. 

Just over a third (34 per cent) of straight respondents said the same. 

Further findings show that almost half (46 per cent) of LGBTQ+ respondents feel unsafe online, compared to just under a third (29 per cent) of straight respondents. 

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Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of respondents said they felt unsafe online due to leaving a digital footprint and data privacy. 

Just under three-quarters (73 per cent) of LGBTQ+ users said they had been a victim of online abuse – more than double the proportion among straight respondents. 

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The survey also found more than half of the queer respondents (59 per cent) had considered cosmetic surgery as a result of social media, while more than four in five (85 per cent) said social media makes them feel less confident in their life choices. Only 54 per cent of straight respondents said the same. 

The LGBTQ+ community also ranked highest for having had a partner control or try to control their digital interactions, with 61 per cent answering “yes” compared to 27 per cent of straight respondents.

‘Take important steps to improve the digital world’

Communia’s founder, Olivia DeRamus, said of the findings: “This survey should encourage big tech companies, the UK government, and consumers themselves to take important steps to improve the digital world and make it safe from predatory behaviour, hate speech, trolling, and other forms of abuse.

“I encourage the broader tech community to emulate Communia’s safety and digital well-being strategies. Suggestions include: making it as easy as possible to report abuse, verifying users’ identities, banning those who spread hate at the first incident, and uncensoring the words women need to talk about our own experiences.” 

Communia’s report follows Twitter owner Elon Musk declaring both ‘cis’ and ‘cisgender’ as slurs on the social media platform. Musk warned that people who use the terms engage in “repeated, targeted harassment” and could face account suspensions. 

The billionaire, who bought Twitter in October 2022, quietly dropped the platform’s policy protecting trans people from deadnaming and misgendering in April 2023. 

Following his takeover, transphobic remarks were found to have risen by at least 1,458 times per day across the remainder of last year. Additionally, racist, anti-Black comments increased to a height of 3,876 times a day.

However, Twitter’s time may be up as its traffic is reportedly “tanking”, according to the chief of internet services company Cloudflare, as users migrate to rival platforms such as Meta’s newly-launched Threads. 

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