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GLAAD RESPONDS TO TWITTER’S ROLL-BACK OF LONG-STANDING LGBTQ HATE SPEECH POLICY
- Last updated: May 24, 2023
Earlier this Month, Twitter Covertly Removed Section of Hateful Conduct Policy Protecting Transgender People from Targeted Misgendering and Deadnaming
GLAAD: “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.”
(Tuesday, April 18, 2023) – GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, today responded after Twitter removed a transgender-specific protection from its Hateful Conduct Policy.
Prior to the rule change, Twitter’s Hateful Content Policy stated:
“We prohibit targeting others with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category. This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.”
The final sentence, specific to transgender users, has since been removed. According to the Wayback Machine, the sentence referring to targeted misgendering and deadnaming was present on April 7th, but was stricken from the policy on April 8th. The previous version is here, the current version is here.
Twitter first enacted its policy against targeted misgendering and deadnaming in 2018.
Currently, TikTok and Pinterest explicitly prohibit targeted misgendering and deadnaming in their hate and harassment policy, while for both Facebook and Instagram, Meta has publicly stated that they “prohibit violent or dehumanizing content directed against people who identify as LGBTQ+ and remove claims about someone’s gender identity upon their request.” In 2021, GLAAD joined Media Matters for America and 18 other organizations in calling for YouTube to also align with this as a best practice in their hate speech policy.
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis today responded to Twitter’s rollback:
“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. This decision to roll back LGBTQ safety pulls Twitter even more out of step with TikTok, Pinterest, and Meta, which all maintain similar policies to protect their transgender users at a time when anti-transgender rhetoric online is leading to real world discrimination and violence.
The practice of targeted misgendering and deadnaming has been identified by the ADL and other civil society groups as a form of hate speech. Social media companies committed to maintaining safe environments for LGBTQ people should be working to improve hate speech policies, not deleting long-standing ones.”
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. https://t.co/ChR1aQRf95
— Sarah Kate Ellis (@sarahkateellis) April 18, 2023
The change comes as Elon Musk is scheduled to address advertising industry executives today during the POSSIBLE conference, which is billed as “a new tentpole event that brings together the most influential marketing, business leaders, and visionaries from technology, digital, media, entertainment, and culture.” GLAAD is part of the #StopToxicTwitter coalition, a group of more than 60 organizations, calling on Twitter’s top advertisers to accept nothing less than a safe platform for their brands.
A February 2023 poll of LGBTQ Twitter users from Amnesty International USA, GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign found 60% of survey respondents experienced an increase in abusive and hateful speech on Twitter since Elon Musk took over as CEO.
LGBTQ leaders previously expressed concern that the targeted misgendering and deadnaming policy might be removed after Musk’s acquisition of the platform in October 2022, given his long history of anti-LGBTQ posts (including anti-transgender posts just in the last few days).
ABOUT GLAAD’S SOCIAL MEDIA SAFETY INDEX
GLAAD’s Social Media Safety Index (SMSI) and Platform Scorecard provides recommendations for the industry at large and reports on LGBTQ user safety across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok. All platforms scored under a 50 out of a possible 100 in 2022, the 2023 report is due out in June. Among many recommendations, the SMSI called on all platforms to adopt and enforce similar policies to Twitter’s original Policy on Hateful Conduct, which included a specific prohibition against targeted misgendering and deadnaming. Last year, TikTok announced it updated its Community Guidelines to expressly prohibit misgendering, deadnaming, misogyny, and support or promotion of so-called “conversion therapy” programs on the platform.
ABOUT MISGENDERING AND DEADNAMING
Deadnaming and misgendering have harmful real-world effects for the trans community. Misgendering is the practice of referring to a transgender person with the wrong gender. Revealing a transgender person’s former name without their consent – often referred to as “deadnaming” – is an invasion of privacy that undermines the trans person’s true authentic identity, and can put them at risk for discrimination, even violence. Studies have also found that many trans people who have been misgendered face increased levels of psychological stress and depression. The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that transgender and nonbinary youth who reported having pronouns respected by all of the people they lived with attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have their pronouns respected by anyone with whom they lived.
Allowing anti-trans rhetoric and misinformation, including anti-trans practices like targeted misgendering and deadnaming, to go unchecked on social media platforms has implications for individual users and the community at large. 2023 is on pace to be a record-setting year for state legislation targeting LGBTQ adults and youth, with more than 400 pieces of legislation targeting healthcare, education, public places and services, and drag performers or entertainment. Each of the previous two years—2022 and 2021—were record-setting years for anti-LGBTQ legislation, and the public rhetoric around these issues has increased since then. Most bills target transgender people and youth.
— GLAAD (@glaad) April 18, 2023
 https://web.archive.org/web/20230407140923/https://help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/hateful-conduct-policy [archive link of previous policy text from April 7 2023]
About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.
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