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Meta and Twitter Refuse Action on ‘Libs of TikTok’ Posts As Doctors and Staff of Boston Children’s Hospital Receive Death Threats
- Last updated: May 24, 2023
August, 19, 2022 – GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, today responded to Meta’s confirmation that the Libs of TikTok account was not suspended from Facebook, despite media reports on August 17th that the account was suspended. Twitter also has not taken action on recent posts or the account.
The account, run by Chaya Raichik, repeatedly promoted a lie about gender-affirming care at Boston Children’s Hospital over the last week and, according to VICE and other mainstream media outlets, doctors and other hospital staff are now receiving death threats. The Hospital confirmed that they are receiving a “large volume of hostile internet activity, phone calls and harassing emails including threats of violence toward our clinicians and staff.”
“Libs of TikTok is synonymous with maliciously targeting LGBTQ organizations, people, and allies by posting lies, misinformation, and blatant hate,” said a GLAAD spokesperson. “Meta and Twitter continue to profit from accounts like Libs of TikTok as doctors and staff members of Boston Children’s Hospital, and other providers of healthcare to transgender people, receive death threats and hate. These companies are complicit in hosting content which expresses malicious falsehoods and which incite anti-LGBTQ hate. This is the latest in a long pattern of blatant inaction from the platforms to content that directly leads to the recent rise in real world violence and harassment facing LGBTQ people.”
GLAAD contacted Meta and Twitter following the original posts. Libs of TikTok first tweeted a lie on August 11 that “Boston Children’s Hospital is now offering ‘gender-affirming hysterectomies’ for young girls.” The falsehood has been widely debunked by fact-checking groups including Politifact. The Hospital also affirmed that they do not perform certain surgeries on young people who receive gender-affirming care.
The Libs of TikTok account’s posts, which consistently feature intentional disinformation and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric will remain on Facebook despite their seeming conflict with Facebook’s Hate Speech policies, which state in part: “We define attacks as violent or dehumanizing speech, harmful stereotypes, statements of inferiority, expressions of contempt, disgust or dismissal, cursing and calls for exclusion or segregation. We also prohibit the use of harmful stereotypes, which we define as dehumanizing comparisons that have historically been used to attack, intimidate, or exclude specific groups, and that are often linked with offline violence.”
Twitter has not taken action on individual posts related to Boston Children’s Hospital or the Libs of TikTok account, despite its Hateful conduct policy which states: “You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease. We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories.”
Libs of TikTok was twice suspended from Twitter temporarily, and was also temporarily suspended from Instagram earlier this year.
The account was removed from TikTok for violating community guidelines.
In April 2022 the account reported that Linktree removed Libs of TikTok from its product for “inappropriate use.”
On Wednesday August 17th, the Department of Justice announced that it is investigating the violent threats directed at the hospital. LGBTQ organizations and civil rights groups continue to express concern that the extremist hate being put forward on social media from accounts such as Libs of TikTok and others is resulting in real-world violence. Such instances include anti-LGBTQ arson attacks in Baltimore and Brooklyn, and threats from the Proud Boys and the Patriot Front and others targeting Pride events and Drag Queen Story Hours at public libraries, as well as threats and attacks against high profile LGBTQ figures including a recent violent ‘swatting’ attack on trans Twitch streamer, Keffals.
This current situation is only the latest in the systemic pattern of anti-LGBTQ targeted hate and harassment that Libs of TikTok has engaged in — including targeting other hospitals and health care professionals providing gender-affirming care. Prior to last month’s new policy update from Meta and Twitter, it has also consistently promoted hate-driven, patently false assertions baselessly characterizing LGBTQ people as pedophiles and specifically utilizing the term “Groomer” as a vicious anti-LGBTQ slur. Both Twitter and Meta now prohibit such slurs. In deleted tweets, Libs of TikTok baselessly and maliciously accused Chasten Buttigieg of “grooming kids,” and slandered LGBTQ youth suicide prevention organization The Trevor Project as a “grooming organization.”
More about gender-affirming care for transgender youth
In a related story, the American Medical Association issued a new statement on August 16th (just prior to the news breaking about the threats to Boston Children’s Hospital), reiterating the fact that: “Every major medical association recognizes the vital role of gender-affirming care in improving the physical health and mental well-being of transgender individuals.”
During the past year, legislators in three states, Alabama, Arkansans, and Arizona, passed laws that ban aspects of medically necessary and safe gender-affirming care for transgender youth. Bans in Alabama and Arkansas, where the law makes it a federal crime, are currently blocked by federal judges.
In February 2022, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released a non-binding opinion falsely mischaracterizing medically necessary healthcare for transgender youth as child abuse. Texas Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to the Texas Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS) directing them to investigate parents of transgender youth. In May 2022, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the governor had no authority to order such investigations.
In April, the Florida Department of Health issued a memo recommending against gender-affirming care for trans youth. According to the ACLU: earlier this month, “the Florida Board of Medicine ignored the warnings of medical experts and parents with transgender children and voted to adopt a “standard of care” that opposes gender-affirming care for trans youth — a move that would put the licenses of medical professionals at risk for providing life-saving care.”
Last month, GLAAD’s annual Social Media Safety Index gave Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube failing scores on LGBTQ safety, privacy, and expression on the platforms. No platform earned a score of 50 or above out of a possible score of 100.
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.
Nex Benedict (they/them), a 16-year-old student at a public high school in Owasso, Oklahoma, died…