How to Be Safe on Social Media, Especially if You’re LGBTQ+
Enforcement of community standards on social media can be lax, research shows. But there are ways to take control of your feed.
Alok Vaid-Menon is a performance artist, author, speaker, poet, and comedian, but you wouldn’t know it just by looking at them. Rather, you’d be struck by their clothes. Vaid-Menon, who is gender nonconforming, embodies the movement to redefine beauty and fashion away from traditional masculine/feminine standards. Whether posing for a glossy magazine spread, for a photo to accompany a New York Times profile, or speaking onscreen in HBO’s “The Trans List,” Vaid-Menon’s colorful attire defies categorization—and commands attention.
On Instagram, where Vaid-Menon has 1 million followers, the artist shares their thoughts on social issues and posts plenty of fashion shots, like a recent one of them in a crop top and mini-skirt paired with platform sandals.
But the visibility comes at a price. “Because I am brown and choose to maintain my body hair, people comment on my photos with thousands of gorilla and monkey emojis,’’ says Vaid-Menon. “Simply existing on the internet as an LGBTQ person—and especially a trans person—means constant online abuse.”
How to Limit Toxic Content
Until the social media platforms improve their content moderation and enforce their own policies better, there’s much you can do to make your feeds safer places to express yourself or enjoy postings from others. Here are two or three key steps to take for each of the most popular platforms. For more safety measures, see "How to Filter Hate Speech, Hoaxes, and Violent Clips Out of Your Social Feeds."
Facebook (desktop browser)
To block a user: Go to their page > Click the three-dot menu icon near the top right of the profile > Choose “Block.”
To report a user or a group: Navigate to their page > Click the three-dot menu icon near the top right of the profile > “Report.”
Instagram (mobile app)
To block or report a user: Navigate to their profile > Tap the three-dot menu icon in the top right > Tap “Block” or “Report.”
YouTube (desktop browser)
To disable comments: Click the drop-down icon next to the “Comment visibility” section > select “Disable comments.”
To report a video: Click the menu button with three dots next to a video’s title > Click “Report.”
To report a channel: Open the channel’s page > About > Click the flag icon.
Twitter (mobile app)
To unfollow, block, or report a user, or mute (keep certain topics out of your feed): Navigate to their profile > Open the menu in the top right > Select the action you want to take. (You can also do some of these functions from the menu in the top right of a particular tweet.)
To report a tweet: Open the menu in the top right of the tweet > Tap “Report Tweet.”
TikTok (mobile app)
To report a video: Tap and hold while the video is playing > Tap “Report.”
To block or report a user: Go to their profile > Open the three-dot menu in the top right > Tap “Block” or “Report.”