Is Twitter censoring LGBTQ+ content? What we know, what we don’t know

Twitter has been accused of censoring the language of the LGBTQ+ community.

Several transgender groups first noticed that certain words like “trans”, “LGBT” or “BLM” (Black Lives Matter) would not appear in the preview pane when sent as a private message, known as a DM, on the platform.

Instead, a link to the original tweet was displayed with no further information, but other tweets that did not contain the keywords were displayed normally in the DMs.

Elon Musk and Pride Flag
In this composite image, Twitter CEO Elon Musk exits the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco, California on January 24, 2023. Inset: People take part in a demonstration against the cessation of registration of children born to same-sex parents, in Milan, Italy, on March 18, 2023. Some Twitter users have noticed that some words appear to be censored on the site.
Justin Sullivan/Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

Trans Media Watch Chair Jane Fae first noticed the issue on Saturday April 1 and contacted her network to find that many other people were experiencing the same issue.

“There’s definitely something going on, it makes life difficult when you’re trans and you want to talk about trans and then you mention to your friends that you did it,” said Fae, who doesn’t capitalize her name news week.

“I see no good reason for it and it strikes me as petty and appears to have been done on purpose to make life miserable for people on the queer end of the spectrum. That’s how it feels.”

Fae encouraged Twitter to explain what the “good reason” for the alleged censorship would be, but added that “any argument that it’s for ‘sensitivity’ is moot” because you’re probably talking to friends in your DMs and therefore knowing the limits what is safe to discuss.

“But they also don’t do this for words that offend trans people,” Fae said, adding that she is “against banning words.”

If news week Emailed Twitter for comment and received a “poop” emoji in response. CEO Elon Musk wrote in a March 19 tweet that all emails sent to Twitter’s press email would receive an automatic “poop” emoji in response.

Trans Safety Network, a UK-based organization made up of journalists and data analysts who provide research to decision makers influencing policies affecting trans safety, also addressed the issue.

It emerged that many more words appeared to have been banned from Twitter DMs, including “queer,” “sex,” “lesbian,” “gay,” “bisexual,” and “intersex.”

The group also found that while “gay” didn’t show up in DMs, the homophobic slur “f*****” passed the filter.

The term “gender identity” also seemed blocked, but the more controversial term “gender ideology” was allowed. The term “gender ideology” has been co-opted by some conservatives to refer to the rights movements of women, transgender and LGBTQ+ people.

Trans Safety Network noted that it could circumvent the alleged censorship by replacing certain letters in the words with symbols or numbers, but advised against it as it could negatively impact the user experience for dyslexics or those using screen readers.

fae confirmed that many Twitter users around the world were experiencing the same issue, and a number of people complained that their tweets appeared to be “deboosted” and not garnering the same number of views as those who weren’t trans topics spoke.

“It seems like Twitter is making life harder for LGBTQ people and doing whatever it takes to make it less likely for someone who isn’t trans themselves to find out what trans people are saying,” Fae said. She slammed Musk, who promised the “return” of free speech to the platform when he bought the company in October.

“For someone who rose to power on Twitter claiming to be a great ‘free speech warrior,’ that doesn’t look good,” Fae said.

In the first few days after Musk’s $44 billion purchase of Twitter, the use of hate language, including racial, homophobic, transphobic and anti-Semitic slurs, increased significantly compared to the 2022 average, according to the UK-based Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). .

Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of security and integrity, wrote on Oct. 29: “Over the past 48 hours, we’ve seen a small number of accounts post a large number of tweets containing insults and other derogatory terms. To give you a sense of size, 50,000+ tweets repeatedly using a specific slur come from just 300 accounts.”

Twitter says it never censors content on its site, instead aiming to “promote a safe and healthy space, and censorship is not part of our mission or platform.”

“We will only suspend an account or ask you to remove content if there has been a violation of our rules,” it says on its website. Is Twitter censoring LGBTQ+ content? What we know, what we don’t know

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