From The Stonewall Inn Riots to Modern Day Hate Online

Over 50 years ago an event occurred that is recognized as a critical and arguably the most important event in the fight for LGBTQ+ equity. On that day, the Stonewall riots took place in New York’s Greenwich Village. These riots were the pivotal moment in the gay rights movement and came in response to a police raid that began at the famous LGBTQ+ bar the Stonewall Inn.

The fight that started on July 28, 1969 was a physical fight for equity. These riots served as a focusing and motivating point for the LGBTQ+ movement – that fight for civil rights and respect continues today. Unlike that day in 1969, the new arena for hate speech has moved from the streets of New York to online where individuals are bullied and harassed simply due to who they are.

A Troubling Trend Toward LGBTQ+ Online Hate

Recently, the LGBTQ+ media advocacy group GLAAD released its inaugural edition of the Social Media Safety Index.  In this report, GLAAD observed that online communities are not addressing “the prevalence and intensity of hate speech, and harassment stands … as the most significant problem in urgent need of improvement.”  In fact, online hate speech targeting the LGBTQ community is more prevalent than ever before.

The findings of the study as well as additional information recently unveiled were rather alarming.

  • LGBTQ youth were almost three times (42% vs. 15%) more likely to be bullied or harassed online than heterosexual students.
  • Sixty-four percent of LGBTQ social media users reported experiencing harassment and hate speech, a much higher rate than all other identity groups.

When this new information was uncovered it served as a stark reminder of why Two Hat was founded “We believe that everyone should be free to share online without fear of harassment or abuse. And every day we work to make that vision a reality.” remains as crucial as ever.

How Do We Protect Individuals from Hate Speech

How can we create a safe online community for LBTGQ+? First, to prevent hate speech and bullying in a digital community, requires holistic community management. This means understanding all layers of context, including cultural nuance, internet lingo, pop culture, global trends and more. Exceptional online communities will not grow and thrive if even a small percentage of hate speech, bullying, or violence exists within them. This ruins the experience for everyone. No one wants to be on the receiving end of bullying, nor do people want to see it happening to their peers and friends within the community.

Second, identify and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. Two Hat Language and Culture Specialists launched the Gender Expression & Trans Identity initiative. Under this initiative, our specialists now review pronouns and terminology used by the LGBTQ+ community, as well as slang that could be used as hate speech against members of the community, to better inform our Community Sift’s product (which monitors 19 topics including hate speech) capabilities.

Lastly, block hate speech when it’s identified. Two Hat processes over 100 billion human interactions per month, over a trillion per year, with tools that track subversions, evaluate context and identify the level of negative intent behind the content using a holistic AI expert system plus human expertise. Some community members can be highly creative in their attempts to try and subvert a filter, attacking LGBTQ+ community members. All of this serves as the needed support for community management so everyone can feel safe.

“We work with our partners to help them hear the hate as it happens – and stop it before it harms. This is highly reactive, real-time prevention – focused on keeping communities healthy and safe.” said Steve Parkis, CEO, Two Hat Security.

The journey for equity that accelerated at the Stonewall Inn continues today and we must stand up for those who are the victims of hate speech in person and online. Two Hats’ mission and focus will continue to be to keep all communities safe online and we thank you for your continued commitment that helps us achieve this goal, everyday.

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