Glitch calls for social media companies to respond to Black Lives Matter through new content controls

Glitch is calling for social media companies to change their settings in light of the recent proliferation of violent images on their platforms. 

Videos and images capturing the brutalisation of Black people are being posted frequently on social media sites. Some social media companies have basic settings which users can implement that are meant to control the display of violent material. However, in recent weeks these settings have failed as images of both Desmond Ziggy Mombeyarara’s violent arrest and George Floyd’s murder are still circulating on social media without warnings or options to pre-filter this content.  

To push for action, today Glitch formally launches a petition in partnership with urging social media companies to provide greater controls on violent content through the blurring of violent images, and warning users that the content they are about to see may be graphic. 

Instagram has implemented this feature on their stories. However, Instagram posts, Facebook stories and posts, Twitter posts and TikTok content all lack these settings. 

Glitch Founder and Executive Director, Seyi Akiwowo said: 

“Being continuously exposed, without consent or warning, to the last moment’s of Black people’s lives is incredibly disturbing and unsafe for all users, particularly Black communities. Research has shown a quarter of people who see content of violent events develop symptoms of PTSD.” 

“As Glitch, a charity dedicated to making the online space safe, we’re calling on all tech companies to better serve Black communities online, not only bombarded by traumatic and graphic content but also dealing with disproportionate amounts of online abuse and violence. . Tech companies must fulfill their duty to protect their users’ welfare by blurring and warning users about graphic content that they’re about to see. ”

“We at Glitch champion digital citizenship- digital rights as well as digital responsibility and that includes all social media companies playing their part.  That’s why we are calling on tech companies to take responsibility on their platform and ensure all users are safe by moving towards safety by design then just design for profit.

“Giving all users greater control of their online experiences is a step in the right direction.  Just as there are efforts to keep users safe from beheadings, terrorist attacks and animal cruelty, we are calling on tech comapnies to give users a choice about whether we want to engage with images of the brutalisation of Black people or not.

“Social media companies have a responsibility toward their users and to our society as a whole. We need action from these platforms urgently to respect the lives of Black people, because of Black Lives Matter.” 

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