Since Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, the platform has experienced significant changes in policies and moderation practices, leading to a concerning shift in user behavior and the nature of online discourse:
Under Musk’s leadership, Twitter has adopted a more lenient approach to content moderation, even bringing back pages and individuals who had been banned for racism, homophobia, misogyny, and other bigoted displays. While this change is purported to be in promotion of free speech, the free speech it’s Twitter advocates seem to care most about is the freedom to use bigoted speech to harass and bully people they deem less than, including liberals, women, trans people, immigrants, communities of color, etc.
Further Twitter’s lack of enforcement of what community guidelines it still has emboldens supremacists to engage in harmful and abusive conduct toward those they deem lower than. Given the fact that Musk fired most of the company’s content moderators, it’s hardly surprising this has been the result. And most believe it’s his desired result. This inconsistency has created an environment where marginalized communities, including transgender individuals, are left more vulnerable to harassment and hate speech.
One example of the way Elon Musk’s policies encourage anti-trans bigotry and bullying is the elimination of Twitter’s policy against deadnaming trans folks. Prior to Musk taking over, deadnaming trans people was a violation of Twitter policy and had consequences, as being an asshole should. Now, with the removal of that policy, Musk is literally inviting open and public bigotry, bullying, and harassment of trans people to increase on the platform.
With changes in Twitter’s algorithms and the platform’s more hands-off approach to content moderation, harmful rhetoric targeting transgender people has become more prominent, in fact it’s become a feature of Twitter, reaching wider audiences and further entrenching transphobic attitudes. It’s no surprise that we’ve seen a huge increase in anti-trans laws introduced in state legislatures since Musk took over Twitter. This has led to a surge in online harassment and threats against transgender users, contributing to a toxic environment that may spill over into real-world violence.
It’s not just trans issues either. Over the past week in particular there’s been a push among right wing terrorists and self avowed theocratic fascists such as Matt Walsh who want to be allowed to use racial slurs on Twitter and within our larger society without fear of consequences. Matt Walsh has also been spamming Twitter with harassment and bullying against trans people and trans people of color.
I’ve witnessed this increase in bullying myself. If I post or comment about trans issues on Twitter it’s really common for numerous right wing christofascists and cis-supremacist Musk bros to pop in just to say hateful and bigoted things. And I don’t even have a lot of followers or reach on Twitter, not by any means.
The changes in Twitter’s policies and moderation practices have had a disproportionate impact on the transgender community, with many users facing increased levels of bullying, bigotry, and hate speech. This hostile environment exacerbates existing challenges faced by transgender people, including mental health issues, discrimination, social isolation, and has led to a rapid influx of anti-trans laws going to the halls of state legislatures.
As the landscape of Twitter has shifted under Elon Musk’s leadership, there have been growing calls for improved content moderation and platform accountability to protect transgender users and other marginalized communities. Advocates argue that the platform has a responsibility to provide a safe and inclusive environment for all users, free from hate speech, bullying, and calls for genocide. But as Musk continues his hard right turn, I’m not holding breath for things to start shifting back in a better direction.