Is Twitter Censoring Lgbtq+ Content?

The UK-based Trans Safety Network, also found, after some preliminary testing, that the platform is deboosting tweets containing words such as “trans”, “gay”, “lesbian”, “queer” and “bisexual”.

Users have noted that Twitter seems to be censoring certain LGBTQ+ terms on the platform. On 1 April 2023, Twitter users and LGBTQ+ activists spotted that tweets shared via direct messages (DMs) were not showing a preview if they included certain words.

Earlier, when a tweet is shared via DM, it would automatically bring up a preview of the tweet’s contents. However, now, users are simply seeing a plain link if the tweet contains the word “trans”, “LGBT”, “LGBT+” or “BLM” (Black Lives Matter). Other tweets that did not feature the key words are showing as normal

The chair of Trans Media Watch, jane fae, was the first to notice this. She contacted her network to discover that many other people were experiencing the same issue. She said that she failed to see the reasoning behind this censorship and that  “any argument that it’s for ‘sensitivity’ falls” because you’re likely speaking to friends in your DMs, and therefore know the boundaries of what is safe to discuss.

The UK-based Trans Safety Network, also found, after some preliminary testing, that the platform is deboosting tweets containing words such as “trans”, “gay”, “lesbian”, “queer” and “bisexual”. The argument against this move has been twofold. One, is that it is a transphobic and homophobic choice designed to exclude people. Second, the decision goes adversely against Elon Musk’s claims about his commitment to ‘free speech’.

For now, the Trans Safety Network found that they could bypass the alleged censorship by replacing certain letters in the words with symbols or numbers, but discouraged people to do so because it could negatively impact the user experience for dyslexic people or those who use screen readers.

What is even more concerning to users is that tweets that feature terms that are widely regarded as slurs by the LGBTQ+ community – including “trans-identified” and “t***n” is not being censored and can be previewed as normal. Even tweets mentioning the trans-exclusionary term “LGB” have been escaping the restriction on the platform.  The Trans Safety Network also noted that while “gay” would not appear in DMs, the homophobic slur “f*****” passed the filter. The term “gender identity” also seemed to be blocked but the more controversial term “gender ideology” was allowed.

It is important to not look at this change in a vacuum. Under the tenure of the platform’s owner, the researchers of the Centre for Countering Digital Hate found that mention of the LGBTQ+ community via keywords such as “LGBT”, “gay”, “homosexual” or “trans” alongside slurs including “groomer”, “predator” and “paedophile” have increased. The anti-LGBTQ+ ‘groomer’ narrative has not only soared by 119 per cent, but Twitter is on track to make up to $19 million a year from ads on just 10 vitriolic anti-LGBTQ+ accounts reinstated by Elon Musk since he announced his general amnesty policy. 

All this indicates that there has been an increase in hate speech and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community on the platform. This is a concerning trend as hate speech can lead to real-world harm, including violence and discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals.

It is important for social media platforms like Twitter to take proactive steps to address hate speech and discrimination against marginalized communities, including monitoring for hate speech and discrimination, removing content that violates community standards, and implementing more robust reporting and enforcement mechanisms. Additionally, censoring terms that allow LGBTQ+ individuals to express themselves would lead to further silencing or discrimination against the members of the community. Making space for inclusive language on social media platforms allows the opportunity to recognize and respect the diversity of individuals and helps promote a more welcoming and respectful environment.

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Armed with a B.A in English Literature from St. Xavier's college, Mumbai she set out to become a writer about a year ago. When not binge eating and watching reruns of any show she can get her hands on you will find her talking animatedly/ day dreaming/ glued to a book.
Krupa Joseph

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