Online racial hate plagues Black content creators on platforms like Facebook, Instagram: report

“What we’re seeing is that most Black audiences have not seen any progress in stemming the tide of hateful speech on social platforms” says Damian Benders, General Manager of B Code

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Mark Zuckerberg can rename his parent company “Meta”. However, if Facebook and Instagram are to serve as the next evolution of social technology, social change will have to happen first. 

From consumers to congressional hearings, the leading social media platforms are being heavily scrutinized for allowing harmful content to permeate their sites. Last month, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen provided testimony to U.K. lawmakers, stirring global momentum to regulate the social media giant.

When discussing drafting new legislation to tackle harmful online content, Haugen told British lawmakers, “The current system is biased towards bad actors, and people who push people to the extremes.”

(Credit: Online Racial Hate Report)

B Code Media recently released results of a recent research study of the Black community, which echoes and supports many of the whistleblowers’ statements. The Online Racial Hate Report measures the pervasiveness of racial hate speech among Black online content creators and consumers and gauges the impact they have caused on those individuals.

The report was developed by B Code’s proprietary Intelligence Center in partnership with leading hip-hop news site SOHH.com, whose own site was the victim of a racially-motivated hacking and de-platformed in 2007. B Code and SOHH.com partnered on this study to provide more context and clarity on just how much this type of harmful content impacts the well-being of Black audiences. 

Last week, a panel of expert industry thought leaders gathered to discuss this report and the harmful effects online hate has on Black users and content creators, specifically on Instagram and Facebook. The panel was a part of SOHH’s BKON Initiative Virtual Conference and kicked off on Nov. 11 at 3pm ET.  You can watch the recorded session here.

“What we’re seeing is that most Black audiences have not seen any progress in stemming the tide of hateful speech on social platforms” says Damian Benders, General Manager of B Code. “We hope that this study provides much needed insight into how much online activity translates into real life impact and guidance on what social media platforms must do to mitigate exposure to harmful content.”

(Credit: Online Racial Hate Report)

The B Code Intelligence Center routinely surveys a large panel of Black consumers across target demographics. For this study, 1,070 Black respondents aged 18+ were interviewed in a quantitative online survey in September of 2021, and they are representative of all main geographical areas of the United States. 

According to the report:

  1. More than half (54%) of all Black content creators reported having been victims of online racial hate.
  2. Across all respondents, Facebook and Instagram were cited most as platforms where users experience online racial hate.  
  3. 18 to 34-year-old consumers are disproportionately impacted by online racial hate as 46% of that segment reports that experience, especially on smaller social platforms.
  4. The overwhelming majority of respondents who do not report racial hate are disenfranchised, with 58% indicating the report will not make a difference and another 30% believing that no punishment will be imposed.

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