In a quiet move, Twitter removed its policy prohibiting the misgendering or deadnaming of trans people, raising concerns for marginalised groups’ safety on the Elon Musk-owned platform.
The policy against deadnaming and purposefully using the wrong gender for someone as a form of harassment was first put into place on the site in 2018.
People noticed the policy had been removed after the company announced it would no longer remove hate speech from the platform. Instead, tweets “potentially” violating Twitter rules will only be hidden behind a warning label saying that the tweet has restricted visibility.
Twitter has updated its hateful conduct policy to remove protections for trans users. They specifically removed protections from targeted misgendering and deadnaming. While the rules were sparesely enforced, this greenlights further targeting of trans users. pic.twitter.com/I2ANBB9Tr0
— Alejandra Caraballo (@Esqueer_) April 18, 2023
The change was announced in a blog post, reading: “We believe Twitter users have the right to express their opinions and ideas without fear of censorship.” The post also links to Twitter’s rules, where a statement against deadnaming was previously listed under ‘Hateful Conduct,’ but as of April 2023, it is no longer there.
The move from Twitter to not categorise deadnaming and misgendering as hate speech contrasts with other major social media platforms, including TikTok, which banned the practices last year.
“Twitter’s decision to covertly roll back its longtime policy is the latest example of just how unsafe the company is for users and advertisers alike,” GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement to ABC, emphasising that “anti-transgender rhetoric online is leading to real world discrimination and violence.”
Twitter has gone through various content and policy changes since Musk bought the social media site in October 2022. The billionaire’s motivation for purchasing the company was to return it to be a platform for “free speech”, and some of his first moves as the owner were reinstating the accounts of notorious figures like Jordan Peterson, who had been banned for going on a tirade where he deadnamed and misgendered actor Elliot Page.
Musk is known for siding with far-right agitators and has spewed homophobic and transphobic speech before. Last week, he suggested that doctors who treat trans kids should be imprisoned for life and, in 2020, tweeted, “pronouns suck”.
In November 2022, a Bloomberg report found that sources inside Twitter said Musk pushed for a review of policies regulating anti-trans harassment just days after purchasing the company.
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