Elon Musk's Twitter a more hostile space for LGBTQ+ users

After Elon Musk closed the deal, far-right Twitter users started to celebrate their new-found ability to freely use homophobic and transphobic rhetoric.

Photo of Elon Musk, who recently both Twitter.
Image: Via Twitter - @PopBase

Last week, on October 27, Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, completed a $44 billion deal for the acquisition of social media platform Twitter. Only a few days have passed and signs show that Twitter is already becoming a less safe space for its LGBTQ+ users.

In the few days after Elon Musk closed the deal to buy Twitter, the owner of Tesla and SpaceX fired Twitter’s CEO, chief financial officer, policy and legal team leaders, as well as the company’s entire board of directors, making himself the sole director. On Friday, he then claimed that a new content-moderation council with “widely diverse viewpoints” would be formed before enacting major content decisions.

Musk has billed himself as a champion of free speech and has vowed that he would prevent Twitter from becoming a “free-for-all hellscape” and to make the platform “warm and welcoming to all”. Human rights and LGBTQ+ activists from all over the world have expressed concern over what this acquisition might entail, as Musk himself has been called out in the past for endorsing transphobic views and publishing fake news through his account.

The latest episode happened on Sunday, when Musk shared and subsequently deleted a tweet containing what was dubbed an anti-LGBTQ+ conspiracy theory regarding an attack on USA House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband. The article he shared, which originated from a website famous for its history of publishing misinformation, suggested that Pelosi’s attacker was a male prostitute.

Moreover, last week Elon Musk also replied to the daughter of author Jordan Peterson, who was suspended from Twitter for deadnaming and misgendering Elliott Page. In his reply, Musk claimed that “anyone suspended for minor & dubious reasons will be freed from Twitter jail”, suggesting that transphobia might be better tolerated on the platform from now on.

Indeed, since he closed the deal, far-right Twitter users started to celebrate their newfound ability to freely use homophobic and transphobic rhetoric on the platform. Some have started to tweet the word “groomer”, which has been used in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric to compare queer people to child abusers. Last Saturday, former UFC fighter Jake Shields tested the new boundaries of Twitter’s moderation by posting a photo of a drag queen smiling at a child with the caption: “This is a groomer. I was suspended for this exact tweet a month ago so we will see if Twitter is now free.”

Commenting on the changes that are happening on Twitter after Elon Musk bought it, Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic instructor and Trans activist Alejandra Caraballo said that she and many of her friends were flooded with transphobic messages within hours of the takeover.

“You have several multimillion-follower accounts basically declaring open season on trans people,” Caraballo explained. “They’re immediately taking glee and joy in the fact of bullying trans people on the site, and they think that, that’s going to be OK now because Elon’s in charge.”


“This was never about free speech,” she said. “This is literally about their ability to bully people on the site, harass them and then direct their followers who they know are going to launch death threats.”

The Human Rights Campaign published a statement on Friday, saying “We are very concerned about Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. Musk has pledged to restore the accounts of dangerous people who push extremism and disinformation. When this happens, Twitter – a place where many marginalized people, including LGBTQ+ people, find both community and face an onslaught of hate – will quickly become even more hostile.”

The statement concluded saying, “This isn’t about censorship or discrimination of ideas – it is about what kind of company they want to be and what kind of world they want to shape.”

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