Getting the best from smart phone technology

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2016 National LGBT Conference
23 September 2016

Conference notes that modern technology has helped to shrink the world and make communication with those at home and in other countries easier and almost instantaneous. It provides us with opportunities we could never have imagined a few years ago, including in terms of trade union organising. However, it also introduces new and unforeseen risks which can be damaging both personally and in the workplace.

Conference welcomes the introduction of smart phone applications (apps) that have a range of uses: finding where meetings are being held, quick communication, networking, sending links, sharing information and many others. One example is the introduction of the UNISON conference app, which has proved very popular among delegates and visitors with smart phones, making conference documentation more manageable and allowing for instant updates and reminders.

Phone apps also have a social side, providing a way for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members to make contact with each other and develop friendships and relationships. Such apps allow people to make contact without having to venture onto the scene, which not all LGBT people feel comfortable visiting. They also facilitate social and political networking where lack of physical access or financial resources can place insurmountable barriers. This can be particularly valuable for disabled LGBT people.

However, conference is concerned at the growing number of risks and dangers. These include the volume of hate and abuse on social media, with extreme misogyny, racism and disablism all too common. Receiving such hate and abuse can have a huge effect on a person’s mental wellbeing and impact badly on their work performance. Personal physical safety can also be an issue – homophobic attacks have taken place when people have arranged to meet others using dating apps. Further, people can fail to protect their privacy on social media, placing inappropriate personal information in the public domain, which can impacting on their work, sometimes resulting in disciplinary action.

Conference calls on the national LGBT committee to:

1)Raise awareness of the benefit and the dangers of social media and smart phone apps;

2)Promote advice on how to keep yourself safe when using social media and smart phone apps;

3)Encourage reporting of hate crimes perpetrated on social media, publicising how to do so;

4)Continue to campaign against all forms of discrimination in the LGBT community.