Black users are growing disillusioned with larger social media platforms due to speech policing algorithms that often punish Black users for speaking on social issues that impact the Black community.
How can we create a platform where Black users feel safe, heard, and valued?
This case study is about the emotional design of The Cookout only, posts about the actually interface are forthcoming.
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Does Generalized Police Algorithms unfairly target Black Users?
The Research Methods:
User Interviews- 7 Black users of social media, who are active in social justice activism, aged 18-50
Survey- 92 users of social media- both white and Black, aged 18-50
Have you ever been banned by Facebook?
If yes, how many times approximately?
What was the content that you were banned for?
Have you ever reported content? What did you report? Was it removed?
The Results in Black and White (click to expand). The white boxes represent data from white users and the black boxes represent data from black users.
About 79% of black users reported having been banned for hate speech by Facebook as opposed to 33% of white users. Of those that had been banned, the average number of times for white users was 6 and for for Black users- 9 83% of white users had reported someone for harassment compared to 80% of black users 71% of white users had reported hateful comments compared to about 75% of black users about 73% of #6F users had reported a fake profile that was harassing them compared to 50% of Black users
About 79% of Black users reported having been banned for hate speech by Facebook as opposed to 33% of white users.
Of those that had been banned, the average number of times for white users was 6 and for Black users- 9
83% of white users had reported someone for harassment compared to 80% of Black users
71% of white users had reported hateful comments compared to about 75% of Black users
About 73% of #6F users had reported a fake profile that was harassing them compared to 50% of Black users
The starkest and most telling stat of all was in slide 3. When white users report content, it is removed about 1/2 of the time. When Black Users report content, it is removed about 1/10th of the time. Black users and white users report content at about the same rates, so why are Black users receiving so little action?
Not only are Black users experiencing over-policing, but they're also experiencing a really stark and obvious lack of protection on Facebook compared to white users.
Freedom of Speech for Who Exactly?
“Sharing screenshots of a comment a racist made to me” results in Facebook jail but if you report the actual racist comment, you’d find it was NOT Against Community Standards
According to users, this is what here are some of the things that Facebook considers ok and things that are considered not ok.
Black users were removed for using the "n-word" as slang while reports of a user of the "Hard R" Were NOT Against Community Standards
saying "men are trash" in response to sex-based violence is not ok but what is ok is comparing black people to animals
speaking out about a racist experience is not ok but telling black women to "kill themselves" was okayed
“Sharing screenshots of a comment a racist made to me” results in Facebook jail but if you report the actual comment, you’d find it was NOT Against Community Standards
Using the term “white supremacy” to describe race-based violence- not ok. Calling someone an f word? ok
How Users Feel On Facebook, Vs How Users Feel On The Cookout
Why this matters
I believe that tech and design as tools have incredible power to change the world around us. Those tools can also be used for great good or to support and increase harm. As a designer, it is my goal in life to create digital experiences that do not make marginalized users feel worthless, angry, and silenced- so, I decided to experiment with creating something better.
To address the harm that Black users experience from policing on social media, I took myself to the task and initiated the process of creating social media where Black users feel safe. The Cookout App is new, but it is growing swiftly. Already, users are reporting an unprecedented feeling of safety they'd never experienced in a social space.
According to a survey of 50 Cookout users- Cookout users feel safe, affirmed, welcomed, less anxious, seen, heard, valid, happy, relieved, recognized. 2 users did report feeling “lonely” but also reported that this was due to their family and friends being on other platforms but noted they would be coming to the cookout soon.
Creating social media where your most marginalized users feel safe is completely possible- you just have to listen to Black users and care enough to act on the insights they provide.
Black lives can't matter until the words of Black people matter as much as the words of white people.
The Cookout is not just a social media app, it's a community and a culture. The Cookout is a community for members of the African Diaspora who are committed to personal and professional growth and are engaged in combatting, rather than furthering, social ills that affect the Black community. It is exclusive space, so there is no pressure on Cookout members to educate non-black people on our experiences. It is a healing space, giving the Black community space to engage and question without antiblackness.
If you're of the African Disapora, join The Cookout here