A year after Elon Musk bought out Twitter, some users believe that new community guidelines and changes to the platform have made the site inhospitable and even hostile to the LGBTQ community.
The Buyout That Changed Everything
In October 2022, billionaire Tesla founder Elon Musk purchased the social media platform Twitter for $44 billion.
It was a controversial move that gained the world’s attention. But many LGBTQ users, particularly trans people, have argued that changes to the platform under Musk have radically changed the platform for the worst.
New Boss, New Rules
These users have pointed to significant changes on the platform, most notable being Musk’s removal of the ban on misgendering and deadnaming trans people.
Before the Musk takeover, users could be banned for using incorrect pronouns and names.
Concerning Changes for LGBTQ Users
Thousands of formerly suspended accounts were also reinstated despite many having been suspended for anti-LGBTQ harassment.
Musk also chose to lay off employees who reduced abuse, harassment, and misinformation online. He then dissolved Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council, a council of advisors tasked with combating online abuse.
Users Speak Out
Monica Rose, a transgender woman based in Toronto who has been using Twitter (now known as X) since 2008, spoke to NBC about how the Musk takeover has affected trans people on the platform.
A Cute Group of Friends
At first, Rose described using Twitter as similar to spending time with a “cute little group of friends.”
Trans users were able to connect with one another, as well as reach out to trans activists and receive early updates on any state legislature that might affect their communities.
Safe Space No More
The site had offered Rose and her community a (mostly) safe space to congregate online, but in October 2022, that changed.
While she had experienced some anti-trans harassment in the past, she was able to report those accounts for policy violations.
But after Musk’s takeover, she was told multiple times that similar accounts had not violated the site rules and would not be suspended.
It’s a “Cesspool”
“Some of the reports were taking four or five months to get processed,” Rose said.
She said anti-trans harassment and sentiment were becoming more prevalent. After five years on the platform, Rose deleted her account, calling the new iteration of the platform a “cesspool.”
He Doesn’t Understand
Former senior Twitter policy official Anika Collier Navaroli has also spoken about the changes.
She was one of the writers of the original rules for Twitter users and claimed that Musk did not understand the real-world ramifications of rampant online bullying.
Going Backwards in Time
“He’s taking us backwards in time,” she said. “The work was: We keep people safe. When that gets rolled back, we know the implications of that, which is sometimes life and death.”
These concerns are shared by many, including prominent LGBTQ figures like singer Elton John, talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, and actor George Hahn, all of whom have either deleted or stopped using their X accounts since Musk bought the platform.
“Grooming” Stereotype Takes Off
Advocacy groups have also reinforced these concerns. The British non-profit group Center for Countering Digital Hate reported found that X is set to generate $6.4 million worth of ad revenue per year from anti-LGBTQ accounts that linked LGBTQ people to the “grooming” of children.
Posts concerning this harmful stereotype have increased by 119% on X in the last year.
LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD also released the Social Media Safety Index and Platform Scorecard, an annual report that rates the safety of social media platforms for LGBTQ users, based on their policies.
Safety Experience in Decline
“The user safety experience on X/Twitter has steadily declined over the past year —” they reported.
“For LGBTQ people, for all historically marginalized groups, and for everyone, including brands and advertisers who understandably don’t want their ads appearing next to extremist hate content.”
Concerning Business Model
They also called Musk’s policy changes “increasingly reckless.”
They described X’s new business model as one that monetizes “user-generated bullying of other users, high-profile public figures, and members of the general public.”
“I Support Trans People”
Though Musk had been accused of elevating and engaging with “anti-LGBTQ hate accounts” on X and of making public anti-LGBTQ remarks himself, the X owner has claimed that he does support trans people.
“I absolutely support trans, but all these pronouns are an esthetic nightmare,” he said in 2022.
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