Twitter removes transgender protections from hateful conduct policy

Twitter removes transgender protections from hateful conduct policy

New York

Twitter appears to have quietly rolled back a portion of its hateful conduct policy that included specific protections for transgender people.

The policy previously stated that Twitter prohibits “targeting others with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category. This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.” But the second line was removed earlier this month, according to archived versions of the page from the WayBack Machine.

Twitter also removed a line from the policy detailing certain groups of people 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 prohibiting 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 conduct policy.

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

LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD called out the hateful conduct policy change in a Tuesday statement.

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

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

“Restricting the reach of Tweets helps reduce binary ‘leave up versus take down’ content moderation decisions and supports our freedom of speech vs freedom of reach approach,” the company said in a tweet. Twitter also said it will not place ads next to content that has been labeled as violative.

Musk has been in the process of trying to encourage advertisers to return to the platform, after many paused their spending over concerns about Musk’s policy changes, increased hate speech on the platform and massive cuts to the company’s workforce, threatening the company’s core business.

The billionaire tried to assuage advertisers about Twitter’s approach to hateful conduct at a marketing conference Tuesday, saying, “If somebody has something hateful to say, it doesn’t mean you should give them a megaphone,” according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

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