A recent report by ADL, an anti-hate organisation in the US, has shown that social media platforms have consistently failed to prevent online hate and harassment. Despite the self-regulatory efforts made by social media companies, results from ADL’s annual survey shows that the level of online hate and harassment has barely shifted in the past three years. These online experiences disproportionately harm marginalised groups, with LGBTQI+, Asian-American, Jewish and African-American respondents reporting higher rates of various forms of harassment. Many of these problems are intrinsic to the ways in which the business models of social media platforms are optimised for maximum engagement, further exacerbating existing issues in society.
To be clear, this is not solely a U.S. problem. A study by the Alan Turing Institute at Oxford University highlights that the COVID-19 pandemic and its health-related misinformation, has driven an increase in prejudice against East Asians on social media platforms. Following the Atlanta shootings in the U.S., people in the Netherlands also took to the streets to protest anti-racism last month.