Twitter removes transgender protections from hateful conduct policy

New York (CNN) Twitter appears to be rolling back part of its hateful conduct policy that included specific protections for transgender people.

The guidelines have previously stated that Twitter prohibits “targeting others with repeated statements, tropes, or other content intended to degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category. This includes the targeted misgendering or death-naming of transgender people.” But the second line was removed earlier this month, according to archived versions of the site from WayBack machine.

Twitter also removed a line from the policy describing certain groups of people who are often subject to disproportionate abuse online, including “women, people of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual individuals, and marginalized and historically underrepresented communities.” ”

The platform first introduced its policy banning misgendering and deadnaming (referring to a person’s pre-transition name) of transgender people in 2018 as part of a broader overhaul of its hateful behavior policy.

The change in its hateful conduct policy is one of a series of updates Twitter has made to its security and content moderation practices since Elon Musk took over the company last fall. Twitter has also reinstated the accounts of users previously banned for violating its rules, stopped enforcing its Covid-19 misinformation policy, allowed users to purchase blue verification badges and applied controversial new labels to the accounts of several news organizations.

LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD expressed the hateful behavior change in a statement on Tuesday.

“Twitter’s decision to surreptitiously roll back its long-standing policy is the latest example of how unsafe the company is for users and advertisers alike,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “This decision to roll back LGBTQ safety puts Twitter even further out of step with TikTok, Pinterest and Meta, all of which maintain similar policies to protect their transgender community at a time when anti-transgender rhetoric online is leading to discrimination and violence in the real world.”

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment on the change, although the platform did announce earlier this week another updates how it enforces its hateful conduct policy. The platform said it plans to start applying labels to some tweets that violate its policy on hateful behavior and reduce their visibility, a practice similar to that used under the company’s previous leadership, where it either reduced the visibility of or removed offending tweets.

“Limiting the reach of tweets helps reduce the binary decisions of putting up versus taking down content moderation and supports our freedom of speech versus freedom of reach,” the company said in a tweet. Twitter also said it will not place ads next to content that has been flagged as offensive.

Musk has been trying to encourage advertisers to return to the platform, after many halted spending amid concerns about Musk’s policy changes, increased hate speech on the platform and massive cuts to the company’s workforce, which threaten the company’s core business.

The billionaire tried to convince advertisers about Twitter’s approach to hateful behavior at a marketing conference on Tuesday, saying, “If someone has something hateful to say, that doesn’t mean you should give them a megaphone,” according to a Wall Street report. Journal.

Musk has faced a number of criticisms from some in the transgender community, particularly from his transgender daughter Vivian Jenna Wilson. Last year, she petitioned a California court to change the surname of her mother, Justine Wilson, Musk’s ex-wife and mother of five of his seven children, because she no longer wanted to be related to the father “in any way, shape or form shape.”

Musk has also had several tweets mocking the idea of use of people choosing the pronouns they want to apply to them. He had a tweet in December 2020, which he later deleted, that said “when you put him/her in your bio” next to a drawing of an 18th century soldier rubbing blood on his face in front of a pile of dead bodies and wearing a cap that said “I love to oppress”.

And this past December, a vocal critic of many Covid restrictions and protocols, Musk tweeted“My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci.”

But in other tweets, Musk has insisted he has no problem with transgender people, saying his problem is with “all these pronouns,” which he called an “aesthetic nightmare.” He also pointed out that his car company Tesla (TSLA) has repeatedly received a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign as one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality.”

— CNN’s Chris Isidore contributed to this report

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