Capturing Hate

Violent eyewitness videos filmed, shared, and engaged with as entertainment tell a powerful and disturbing story of the abusive and often life threatening environments that transgender and gender nonconforming people navigate daily.


In the Spring of 2011, a then 22-year-old transgender woman named Chrissy Polis was beaten into a seizure in a McDonald’s restaurant near Baltimore, Maryland. Polis had gone into an empty women’s bathroom and was attacked when she came out. Her three teen assailants had complained to a McDonald’s employee that a man had gone into the ladies’ room.

That highly publicized attack shares one disturbing trait with thousands of similar incidents: all were filmed by bystanders who captured and then posted the footage as entertainment.

By early evening on the day of the Polis attack, the video documenting her assault — taken and shared by McDonald’s employee Vernon Hackett who can be heard laughing with other bystanders as he films — had gone viral. Although it was initially removed by YouTube for violating its policies, the video was featured on the Drudge report, appeared on “shock” sites including Worldstarhiphop and LiveLeak, and was broadcast in coverage by local ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates.

That single video, capturing over 3 minutes of Polis being kicked, punched, and dragged across the floor by her hair, has been viewed online 9,846,330 times and has over 112,000 Facebook “likes” on the shock site Worldstarhiphop.com alone. Viewers of that posting added over 3,900 comments that are predominantly profane, transphobic and racist and include incitements to act violently against transgender and gender nonconforming people.

The Polis video — posted over 5 years ago — continues to be shared and engaged with to this day. On the World Star site, comments were added as recently as 7 weeks ago. And, though clearly in violation of YouTube policies prohibiting videos of hate speech and incitements to violence unless contextualized for educational or pro-social purposes, the Polis video and hundreds like it still stream on that platform today.

A single derogatory search term like “tranny fight” results in tens of thousands of links to video content on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and on a myriad of proprietary platforms, most celebrating violence or disparaging vulnerable populations. That content includes transgender and gender nonconforming people as victims of assault, being threatened or intimidated, harassed, stalked, bullied, mocked, as targets in violent video games, portrayed as deviant on television shows and in film…and being murdered.

Our analysis of a sample of the videos found that 329 of them have been viewed collectively over 89 million times, shared over 600,000 times and over half a million people who rated them “liked” the content.

Brands like Walmart, Applebee’s, Heineken, and The New York Times, to name a few, have ads running on the platforms that stream them. On YouTube, where we found the majority of videos matching our research framework, State Farm Insurance and the Connecticut Board of Tourism have ads inline and adjacent to content with titles like “Trannies Gone Wild” and include comments like “I would’ve loved to see him throw the trannie onto the tracks.”

Aside from sheer volume of video and number of times the small sampling of videos have been shared, it is the ongoing hateful engagement that raised the most alarm. The LGBTQ advocacy organizations we interviewed, including The National LGBTQ Task Force, Lambda Legal and the New York City Anti-violence Project (AVP), expressed shock by the number of videos we found, how widely viewed and favorably rated they were, and “horrified” by the vitriol in the comments.

Bev Tillery, the Executive Director of AVP remarked “for there to be a report where you found hundreds of these videos that people are posting on a regular basis on all kinds of sites tells us something very different about what’s happening to trans folks than what is out there right now.”

According to Tillery there has been a marked rise in hate violence with 23 transgender murders so far in 2016. The controversial trial for the 2013 brutal murder of Islan Nettles in New York City this year — in which her assailant cited a “threat to his manhood” as the motivation for beating her to death on a Harlem street — ended in a plea bargain. Tillery is quick to note that those accounts don’t factor the uncounted and unnamed transgender people who survive sexual assault, harassment, stalking, discrimination and bullying every day.

Compounding political, institutional, and social biases, is the fact that understanding and addressing the needs of transgender and gender nonconforming communities has been understudied because federal and other general population surveys that determine policy, social services and funding do not include questions about gender identity beyond the binary. In a report released last year by the National Center for Transgender Community called “The persistent lack of data on transgender people’s lives from authoritative federal surveys is one of the greatest policy failures facing the trans movement today.”

Further, the FBI, required by federal law to report on hate crimes, has admitted its accounting vastly under reports bias incidents against the LGBTQ community and other marginalized groups. Many law enforcement agencies simply refuse to cooperate in the collection of data and a majority of victims don’t report attacks fearing added discrimination and harassment by cops and the criminal justice system. In a speech to the Anti-Defamation League FBI Director James Comey stated that “We need to do a better job of tracking and reporting hate crime to fully understand what is happening in our communities and how to stop it.”

“For many people, the existence of these videos is a secondary act of violence. We need to seriously consider policies that give control back to the survivors.”

BEVERLY TILLARY
BEVERLY TILLARY
Executive Director, The New York City Anti-violence Project

The ongoing creation and engagement with videos that regard violence against trans people as entertainment and include space for racist, transphobic and homophobic discourse has impact far beyond the digital realm. According to Tillery, “For many people, the existence of these videos is a secondary act of violence. We need to seriously consider policies that give control back to the survivors.”

These videos have re-victimized the survivors of these attacks and instilled fear into communities that are already enduring institutional and cultural oppression on multiple axes. The people in these videos have been thrust into the public eye as a result of likely the most humiliating and terrifying experience of their lives: without permission, without dignity. In her statement to the court when her assailants were sentenced, Polis wrote, “My private life has been exposed to the world. I lost my job. I cannot go anywhere without the fear of being hurt again. I want to go in a hole and hide.”

“The hateful engagement with these videos is not just targeted at the people in the videos — it’s directed at all trans-people and all gender nonconforming people.”

KYLAR BROADUS
KYLAR BROADUS
Executive Director, Trans People of Color Coalition

Kylar Broadus, Executive Director of the Trans People of Color Coalition and the first transgender witness to testify before the U.S. Senate said of the report’s findings, “The hateful engagement with these videos is not just targeted at the people in the videos — it’s directed at all trans-people and all gender nonconforming people. These videos perpetuate hate and violence against our community. The dignity and privacy of the survivors and the impact on a community that is under attack and fearful has to be at the forefront of this conversation.”

In an era of unprecedented access to cameras and streaming platforms, the ability to capture and share content has led us into uncharted territories. As journalists and advocates we are scrambling to make sense of how to sort the deluge that is often unleashed without consideration and storytell in a way that clarifies rather than confuses, protects the privacy of victims, and empowers rather than depresses our audiences.

Balancing the tensions between re-victimization and exploitation and the potent way video exposes abuse is an ongoing challenge. But, there is no doubting the singular impact of eyewitness video in exposing human rights abuses and empowering marginalized communities.

Even though this content was intended to do harm, if used ethically, it documents discrimination and abuse in a way no other reports on transphobic violence have done to date. The study of eyewitness videos, coupled with an analysis of how viewers engage with them, is a powerful way to tell the stories of marginalized communities and an irrefutable way to expose human rights abuses.

Screen shot of the 2011 assault on Chrissy Polis in a Baltimore, MD McDonald’s restaurant. The video is still being viewed and engaged with on multiple platforms.
Vernon Hackett’s Facebook and Twitter comments after posting and sharing his video video of the assault on Chrissy Polis on YouTube

I would have fucking killed that aids ridden little faggot with daddy issues that wants to call himself a girl.

USER COMMENT

PREFACE

The WITNESS Media Lab incubates emerging technologies and practices dedicated to unleashing the potential of eyewitness video as a powerful tool to report, monitor, and advocate for human rights.

On October 26th we released,“Capturing Hate,” a project that studied viewer engagement with eyewitness videos that show acts of transphobic violence that were filmed, shared, and engaged with as entertainment. The videos and viewer engagement with them tell a powerful and disturbing story of the abusive and often life threatening environments that transgender and gender nonconforming people navigate daily.

The hard won legal victories that the LGBTQ community has achieved in the U.S. has triggered a backlash. There have been over 100 proposed anti-LGBTQ state laws since the passage of marriage equality in June of 2015, many of them specifically targeting transgender people. Anti-LGBTQ violence, particularly against transgender people of color, has been called an “epidemic” by anti-violence groups, and, a majority of U.S. states can legally exclude transgender communities from public accommodation, employment, housing and healthcare.

The persistent lack of data on transgender people’s lives from authoritative federal surveys is one of the greatest policy failures facing the trans movement today.

THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR TRANSGENDER EQUALITY

Meeting the needs and understanding the issues facing transgender and gender nonconforming people is understudied because general population surveys that currently determine policy, social services and funding do not include questions about gender identity beyond the male and female binary. And, being uncounted means being overlooked.

This project explores the untapped potential of eyewitness video as a way to fill that gap. By collecting and analyzing viewer engagement with eyewitness videos, we’ve found an innovative way of unmasking patterns of discrimination and abuse. Further, it challenges the conventional notion that data affecting policy and funding is only valuable if gleaned from government, institutional or academic surveys.

In an effort to address the shortcomings of federal data and to supplement other research the WITNESS Media Lab looked to eyewitness videos of transphobic violence and the viewer engagement with them as a new and arguably more compelling source of data. We found hundreds of videos made not with the intention of exposing or prosecuting abuse, but rather, content that is captured, shared, and engaged with as entertainment.

Our analysis of the engagement with those videos — including ratings, comments and how the videos are captured, titled and described — proves that abuse and discrimination against transgender people is widespread and undercounted. And, the content condones, or even encourages, violent acts against them. The existence of these videos and the volume of hateful engagement pose a direct threat to gender nonconforming people and compromise a positive and empowered representation of these communities.

However, we think that there are ethical and effective ways that these videos, though they are intended to cause harm, can be used for advocacy. Balancing the tensions between re-victimization and exploitation and the potent way video exposes abuse is an ongoing challenge. But, there is no doubting the singular impact of eyewitness video in exposing human rights abuses and empowering marginalized communities.

PROJECT SCOPE

This report is the result of the 2016 WITNESS Media Lab Curation Fellowship.

To scope this project for a 15-week engagement, our study includes just a small sampling of the tens of thousands of videos we found that included transgender and gender nonconforming people as targets of assault, being threatened or intimidated, harassed, stalked, bullied, mocked, as targets in violent video games, portrayed as deviant on television shows and in film, and even murdered. We studied viewer engagement only with videos that captured physical assault and we analyzed data from four very different sites. We included YouTube, where we found the most videos, but the content represents just a small segment of the platform’s total offerings. World Star Hip Hop and Fly Height are “shock” sites that solicit and promote these videos to drive traffic and to monetize as part of their business models. And, Live Leak, a video aggregator that promotes itself as a cutting edge news outlet known for breaking particularly gruesome content (e.g., the execution of Saddam Hussein).

Significantly absent from this study is the viewer engagement data from eyewitness videos hosted on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Vine. In our URL harvests we found thousands of video links on these platforms matching the search criteria, and tens of thousands of Facebook “likes” from platforms we did analyze. In test studies we found that most videos were uploaded to a hosting platform then shared to social media platforms furthering viewer engagement. Capturing and analyzing that data exceeded project resources in both cost and capacity.

Even with this small sample size, LGBTQ advocacy organizations we consulted were surprised by the number of eyewitness videos of violence against transgender people and stunned by how widely viewed and favorably rated they were. Most alarming are the vitriolic comments that are ongoing. We found videos posted years ago that are still being engaged with today.

This study tells the story of abuse suffered by transgender and gender nonconforming people in a unique and compelling way. Just as eyewitness video of police brutality in communities of color in the U.S. removed plausible deniability and launched a worldwide movement demanding transparency and change, it is our hope that these findings raise greater awareness and spark discussion of the cultural and political climate that is fostering discrimination and encouraging violence against transgender communities. And, we hope it creates a sense of urgency in making laws and policies that protect them.

TERMINOLOGY

INTRODUCTION

Callous indifference, unimaginable violence

It takes a moment to understand what’s happening.

The video opens, panning from the lower left, blurring with movement as the filmer moves toward what looks like two women in a corner. Unintelligible shouts and screams echo in the room.

As the footage comes into focus, the two women are leaning forward, facing the wall. They are hovering over something.

Leg cocked, knee raised to chest level, one of the women stomps down on what is now clearly another person, cowering on the floor, arms wrapped around their head shielding it from the blows. The attacker recoils and stomps again. Then again and again. Only stopping when the other woman drags the supine figure by her hair out into the room. The two women continue punching, kicking, slapping and screaming insults until the victim has a seizure.

This was the scene on April 18, 2011 when a transgender woman,named Chrissy Polis was attacked by two teens in a Rosedale, Maryland McDonald’s for using the women’s restroom.

During the assault, a McDonald’s employee, Vernon Hackett, filmed the attack with his smartphone and shortly thereafter posted it to his YouTube page. He then shared the link and swapped comments about the video with his followers on Twitter and Facebook.

The video, running for just over 3 minutes, has since been viewed 9,842,095 times and has over 112,000 Facebook “likes” on the shock site Worldstarhiphop.com alone. That single posting is accompanied by over 3,900 comments, mostly filled with transphobic and racist slurs.

As reported in a 2011 Baltimore Sun article, the video was first posted on YouTube, then taken down by administrators who said it violated the site’s policies. Within hours of the original posting, it appeared again on other sites and was ultimately linked from the popular Drudge Report, which gave it top billing for much of the day.

By early evening on the day of the attack, the video had gone viral receiving more than 500,000 views on one site alone. The video then began appearing on Worldstarhiphop.com, LiveLeak and other sites, 

and, despite YouTube’s vigilance, a version of the video is still streaming from that platform today.

In addition to the transphobia and homophobia that fueled the assault on Polis, we found hundreds of similar attacks that share one other disturbing trait: all were filmed by bystanders who captured and then shared the footage as a source of entertainment. Use the right search terms on the most popular video hosting sites and you’ll find thousands of them.

OVERVIEW & PROJECT SCOPE

We began our research using dozens of queries and phrases across multiple platforms and sites, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and many popular “shock” sites. Those searches returned tens of thousands of links to video content showing transgender and gender nonconforming people as targets of assault, being threatened or intimidated, harassed, stalked, bullied, mocked, as targets in violent video games, portrayed as deviant on television shows and in film, and even murdered.

To scope this project for a 15-week engagement, our study includes just a small sampling of the tens of thousands of videos we found in those initiatial searches. We studied viewer engagement only with videos that captured physical assaults and that were found using just two search terms — one to find transfeminine encounters, the other to find assaults involving transmasculine people. We focused on platforms that returned the most videos from those search parameters:

  • YouTube, where we found the most videos, was the only site we included that does not fall into the “shock” site category. While there are thousands of videos that included violence against transgender and gender nonconforming to be found there, and that are engaged with as entertainment, they account for just a small segment of the platform’s total offerings.
  • World Star Hip Hop and Fly Height are “shock” sites that actively solicit and promote these videos as entertainment. Further, they promote them as a means to drive traffic and monetize as part of their business models.
  • Live Leak, a video aggregator that promotes itself as a cutting edge news outlet, is known for breaking particularly grusome content (e.g., the execution of Saddam Hussein) and is also considered a “shock” site.

Significantly absent from this study is the viewer engagement data from eyewitness videos hosted on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Vine. In our URL harvests we found thousands of video links on these platforms matching the search criteria, and tens of thousands of Facebook “likes” from platforms we did analyze. In test studies we found that most videos were uploaded to a hosting platform then shared to social media platforms furthering viewer engagement. Capturing and analyzing that data exceeded project resources in both cost and capacity.

Even with this small sample size, LGBTQ advocacy organizations we consulted were surprised by the number of eyewitness videos of violence against transgender people and stunned by how widely viewed and favorably rated they were. Most alarming are the vitriolic comments that are ongoing. We found videos posted years ago that are still being engaged with today.

FINDINGS

CONCLUSIONS

These videos are hateful.

They are captured and shared with the singular objective of amusing viewers, and, on “shock” sites, to drive traffic and generate revenue.

These eyewitness videos document mistreatment of transgender and gender nonconforming people ranging from disrespect to murder. They show acts of violence against transgender and gender nonconforming people that are not only tolerated, but encouraged and glorified.

The videos of these encounters are shocking not only in their quantity, but in their popularity among viewers and the callousness of the comments and conversations about them. Homophobic, transphobic and racist remarks dominate the discussions, and positive responses to the content — from a thumbs up to a “LOL” — overwhelmingly outweigh unfavorable responses.

“Please kill all fags & niggers for a safer USA”

VIEWER COMMENT

The viewer engagement with these eyewitness videos reveal deeply held biases that intersect race, sex, class and gender identity. The attitudes expressed by viewers overwhelmingly blame gender nonconforming people for the violence and hatred perpetrated against them and expose a visceral rejection of people transgressing accepted notions of gender expression.

Comments by viewers reveal a widespread sentiment of transphobia that not only condones violence against those who are perceived as outside the gender binary, but also actively encourages violent attacks. In many of the videos bystanders can be heard cheering on the fights and shouting hate-filled epithets. This kind of engagement serves only to instill fear and to further marginalize transgender and gender nonconforming people who are fighting discrimination on multiple fronts.

Our goal with this report is to raise awareness of not only the videos, but to expose the social conditions that encourage these violent acts and bring accolades to filmers and commenters. Many of the videos include audio shout outs for “World Star” and “going viral” suggesting an accepted practice of bystander disregard and the presumed esteem in which capturing and sharing videos is held.

It is important to note, that our findings are from a small subset of the transphobic videos we found. While the filmed assaults show acts of violence that may otherwise go unreported, they are a small sampling from hate-filled videos that did not include the phrase “tranny fight” or “stud fight” in the title, description, and comments or captured acts of violence other than physical assault. There are also hundreds of videos posted of recorded gamers role-playing virtual violence against transgender people in popular games like Grand Theft Auto, Dragon Age, and LEGO: Lord of the Rings.

The majority of the videos found are on YouTube, the only platform we studied that specifically mentions protection from hate speech that encourages or incites violence based on race, sexual orientation and gender identity; these videos clearly violate those policies. That they continue to be viewed and engaged with on YouTube despite those policies underscores the challenges of enforcing compliance and creating environments that encourage civil and non-discriminatory discourse. Further, we have no data on how many of these kinds of videos have been removed from the platform for violating YouTube’s Terms of Service.

These eyewitness videos and their corresponding viewer engagement have real and sustained impact. A survivor’s loss of privacy and control over their public image in the aftermath often compounds injury with the loss of employment, housing, and personal relationships. The circulation and replaying of these traumatic events not only denies survivors a safe space to heal, but has a chilling effect on all gender nonconforming people.

In our research, we heard from the victims who describe not only the physical and psychological impact of being assaulted, but the continued abuse directed at them when the events are filmed and shared. The loss of privacy and control over their public image in the aftermath often compounds injury with the loss of employment, housing, and personal relationships. The recirculation and replaying of these traumatic events not only denies victims a safe space to heal, but has a chilling effect on all gender nonconforming people.

These videos are both terrifying and sad. As we learned from watching them and reading the comments, they represent emerging cultural norms that shift bystanders from witnesses to content creators. The people filming and sharing these videos are exploiting and encouraging violence against vulnerable and marginalized people for praise from the anonymous digital masses. In all of these videos, the filmer’s first impulse is to capture, share and promote rather than consider the welfare of other human beings.

Even with this small sample size, LGBTQ advocacy organizations we consulted were surprised by the number of eyewitness videos of violence against transgender people and stunned by how widely viewed and favorably rated they were. Most alarming are the vitriolic comments that are ongoing. We found videos posted years ago that are still being engaged with today.

This study tells the story of abuse suffered by transgender and gender nonconforming people in a unique and compelling way. It is our hope that these findings raise greater awareness and spark discussion of the cultural and political climate that is fostering discrimination and encouraging violence against transgender communities. And, we hope it creates a sense of urgency in making laws and policies that protect them.

Finally, we think that these videos, and the viewer engagement data associated with them, show yet another way eyewitness video can be used for advocacy. Even though this content was intended to do harm, if used ethically, it documents discrimination and abuse in a way no other reports on transphobic violence have done to date. The study of eyewitness videos, coupled with an analysis of how viewers engage with them, is a powerful way to expose human rights abuses.

RECOMMENDATIONS

OVERVIEW

It’s imperative that all parties recognize the harm done by these videos and the mostly hateful engagement that accompanies them. These videos not only condone an intolerance of transgender and gender nonconforming people, but foster a climate that encourages acts of violence against them. Further, they re-victimize the survivors of these attacks and instill fear into communities that are already enduring institutional and cultural oppressions on multiple axes.

To avoid narrow stereotyping and retraumatizing victims, we propose the following to help advocates, attorneys, brand managers, journalists and technology companies manage these videos ethically and with compassion:

FOR ADVOCACY ORGANIZATIONS, ACTIVISTS and ALLIES

The existence of these videos and the volume of hateful engagement pose a direct threat to gender nonconforming people and compromise a positive and empowered representation of the community.

However, we think that there are ethical and effective ways that these eyewitness videos, that are intended to cause harm, can be used for advocacy.

Follow WITNESS guidelines for the safe and ethical use of eyewitness videos Video As Evidence Ethical Guidelines.

Understand the policies of the platforms and websites that host these videos and create recommendations that address the human rights impact of this content as well as suggestions for disrupting these conversations and empowering survivors.

Use this report in your advocacy campaigns as a way of documenting abuse and discrimination against transgender and gender nonconforming people.

Use the findings from this research to raise greater awareness and spark discussion of the cultural and political climate that is fostering discrimination and encouraging violence against these communities.

Use this report’s companion website to share findings to your social networks.

Develop materials and trainings that educate the transgender and gender nonconforming communities (and their allies) about personal safety and the ethical use of these eyewitness videos for advocacy, including:

  • What to do if you discover an eyewitness video capturing your likeness that has been posted without your permission
  • How to respond when you believe someone is filming you without your permission
  • What to do if you are a witness to an assault
  • How to safely record a video when you are threatened

Reference these findings in your research and reporting

Refer to WITNESS resources on finding, verifying, preserving, and sharing footage for advocacy:

FOR ATTORNEYS and LEGAL SERVICES PROVIDERS

A thorough study of the possible evidentiary value of these videos was beyond the scope of this project. However, some of the videos we found were were used in legal investigations and proceedings. In the Chrissy Polis case, the video of her assault and the audible slurs yelled by her assailants, led to federal hate crimes charges against one of her attackers. These findings may serve to provide context, if not direct evidence, for legal proceedings.

 

Videos may be removed without notice. Download and archive the video and viewer engagement to preserve it for documentation purposes.

Consider how these videos might be used to:

  • be evidence of hate crimes
  • support documentation in asylum cases
  • expose life threatening environments endured by transgender and gender nonconforming people.

FOR JOURNALISTS and MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS

The filmers and viewers are engaging in an activity that is rewarded with attention and feedback. The shouting of “World Star Hip Hop” by bystanders during filming bears this out. Comments that include bragging about being the first to post responses, the amount of engagement with the content, and, comments that praise the filmer and publisher, all encourage the violence.

 

Recognize that these videos may re-victimize survivors of attacks and may serve to foster a climate that encourages physical violence based on gender identity.

Avoid the recirculation and descriptions of the videos that may cause further and long-lasting harm to the survivors. If your intention is to expose or report on abuse, refer to the WITNESS guidelines for the ethical use of eyewitness videos.

Add context to your coverage of the transgender and gender nonconforming communities by referencing the findings in this report.

Add trigger warnings to all reports containing any footage, text descriptions or still images from these videos.

Use the video engagement data from eyewitness videos as an alternative way to create stories that expose and document abuses against transgender and gender nonconforming people.

Create practices and review processes that assure reporting that refrains from promoting the platforms and content viewers, and considers first the impact on victims and their communities.

Protect the privacy and dignity of survivors by using face blurring, audio distortion and other tools that provide anonymity.

Avoid promoting or glorifying the platforms that host these videos as well as the filmers that capture, share and encourage others to engage.

Raise public awareness of the platforms with business models that monetize this kind of content (e.g., World Star Hip Hop) and expose how they promote violence as entertainment.

FOR BRAND MANAGERS

We found many examples of advertising by major brands as bumper video, inline pop-up ads and adjacent display ads. They present products and services next to, or inline with, content that shows transgender and gender nonconforming people being mocked, threatened, stalked and assaulted.

Brands that choose to advertise on platforms like World Star, Fly Height and Live Leak, know what they are getting into. The business models for these platforms intentionally source and promote videos of violence and exploitation to monetize their operations. From bashing transgender people and toddlers getting hit by cars, to a cop brutalizing a man in a 

wheelchair, they use content like this to drive traffic by the millions.

Third-party distribution of your advertising assets may mean your brand is adjacent to this kind of content, giving the impression to consumers that your company supports and condones these videos. To avoid this perception:

Create brand guidelines and practices for managing advertising inventory on these platforms that includes:

  • How to monitor your brand’s association with this content
  • How to notify sites and platforms when your brand is associated with eyewitness videos of violent acts against gender nonconforming people
  • What to do if services continue to place your advertising assets adjacent to this content
  • How to filter your keywords to avoid brand affiliation with hateful content

Consider the buying power, loyalty and media savvy of consumers that are supportive of LGBTQ communities and place advertising with content that promotes positive and empowered representations of transgender and gender nonconforming people

FOR TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES

We expected to find these violent, transphobic and racist videos on sites like World Star Hip Hop and Fly Height, — but most of the videos we found were hosted on YouTube, the platform with the most rigorous terms of use.

For anyone filming and sharing videos, maximizing viewer engagement is their goal. In this context, the content is shared to encourage ongoing 

abuse and to foment an environment that accepts and encourages violence against transgender and gender nonconforming people.

To address the negative impact as well as the potential value of those videos to the LGBTQ community:

Recognize that these videos are of violent acts against transgender and gender nonconforming people that are captured, shared and engaged with as entertainment, suggesting a need to review the role of the platforms in encouraging anti-LGBTQ violence.

Increase transparency regarding policies and decisions that allow for the sharing and engagement with violent content that is not shared to expose, challenge or prosecute abuse, but is captured shared and engaged with as entertainment.

Create tools that alert LGBTQ advocacy organizations when this kind of content is posted; collaborate on practices that enable review and archiving for use in advocacy and legal proceedings.

Re-evaluate informed consent policies to protect the victims in these videos, most of whom are unaware they are being filmed.

Partner with LGBTQ organizations and research institutions to create awareness of this content and provide ongoing engagement data for research and advocacy.

Recognize that this content re-victimizes survivors of attacks.

Re-evaluate current policy in partnership with LGBTQ anti-violence and advocacy organizations that considers the human rights impact of these videos and the ongoing viewer engagement with them.

Recognize the widespread violation of existing policies that prohibit videos encouraging violence that are not shared for educational purposes, and identify policies to reduce or eliminate these videos.

Engage in user education around the capturing and sharing of content (such as these videos) can be powerful evidence of violations of human and civil rights under certain circumstances, but can also be victimizing, as well.

Create guidelines that discourage the creation and promotion of channels and collections of exploitive and violent content.