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ADL Social Pattern Library Offers Template for Social Media Platforms to Reduce Hate and Harassment

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First-of-its-kind resource contains design principles and user experience patterns that mitigate the spread of hate and harassment online

New York, NY, November 18, 2021 … ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) today announced the release of the ADL Social Pattern Library, a collection of design principles and user experience patterns intended to mitigate hateful content on social media platforms. The library, which will be a living resource, focuses on the design of social media products and the way people experience them, leveraging user experience (UX) design examples to provide codified product recommendations that will help break the cycle in which hateful content is amplified through algorithms or similar features.

The Social Pattern Library shows developers and designers how to build platform features that can be used to prevent users from disseminating hateful content and help users report hateful content.

“We know that social media has the power to do good. But too often, it is used for harm and allows vile, hateful ideas that were once confined to the fringe to spread rapidly and internationally at scale,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “The goal of the Social Pattern Library is to keep anti-hate by design top of mind for social platforms, user experience designers, developers, and product teams when they build out products that are used by billions of people every day. Social media platforms have a responsibility to help mitigate hate, and we’ve given them a tangible roadmap for doing so.”

Social media companies often design their products in ways that allow hate and harassment to spread exponentially. Currently, most platform designs and algorithms are designed to maximize user engagement to keep users logged on for as long as possible to generate advertising revenue. Too often, those algorithms recommend inflammatory content, including questionable content shared by users who have been flagged multiple times. Many designers and executives are unaware of the harm of their design choices or of the potential benefit to using best practices to mitigate hate and harassment.

“As we’re all too familiar now, the social web didn’t come with an operating manual. We’ve had to learn through experimentation and trial by fire,” said Chris Messina, Head of West Coast Business Development, Republic, former designer at Google and Uber, and creator of the hashtag. “This is why ADL’s Social Pattern Library is so important. Through months and years of observation, testing and iterating, UX designers and product innovators finally have a timely and coherent resource to guide us in building safer, more humane social software.”

“This is a fantastic library. It asks all the right questions, proposes proven and well-researched approaches, and most importantly, puts it idea of creating a safe place for every user at the center of the discussion,” said Jared Spool, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Center Centre – UIE. “Using this library, designers and developers can take full advantage of the power of the internet, while preventing the propagation of hate and harassment so common in today’s implementations. We’re now planning to use this as a core part of our curriculum for the Center Centre UX Design School. Every graduate will be versed in the patterns and principles of this essential pattern library.”

“This library sets necessary guards and guidance that mitigate the overwhelming presence of hate in various platforms and engagement,” said Debbie Kim, product designer at NerdWallet.

“It’s a tool we should all be utilizing to keep ourselves and each other accountable for what and how we create and problem solve.”

Spearheaded by Erin Malone, CTS’ lead UX designer and co-author of Designing Social Interfaces, the new pattern library builds on ADL’s recent recommendations for reducing the prevalence of hate on social media, including:

  • Recommendations to Twitter that resulted in interstitials calling out harmful or offensive language before a user can share unread links;
  • Recommendations to Zoom that resulted in enhanced security features to thwart Zoom bombing, including the addition of easy-to-find security tools; and
  • Recommendations to YouTube that resulted in interstitials asking users to reflect on what they said before posting offensive comments.

“I'm really excited to see ADL's social pattern library launching after having been privy to the intensely thorough research, strategy, design, and development that went into it,” said Christian Crumlish, co-author of Designing Social Interfaces. “I've been working for years on building online communities designed for compassion and mutual support and searching for methods to fight the worst trends. Finally, there is a toolkit for thoughtful intentional designers and product managers who care about the social impact of the environments they are architecting and building.”

ADL created the social pattern library in response to the continued rise of hate and harassment online.

ADL’s most recent survey found that 41 percent of Americans reported having experienced some form of online hate and harassment. The survey also found that 33 percent of respondents attributed their harassment to an identity characteristic, which was defined as their sexual orientation, religion, race or ethnicity, gender identity, or disability. What’s more, the overwhelming majority of those polled – 81 percent of Americans – agreed with the statement that social media platforms should do more to combat online hate.

Building on ADL’s century of experience building a world without hate, the Center for Technology and Society (CTS) serves as a resource to tech platforms and develops proactive solutions to fight hate both online and offline. CTS works at the intersection of technology and civil rights through education, research and advocacy.