Twitter appears to censor LGBTQ+ terms including ‘trans’ in DM previews

Elon Musk Twitter

Social media users have noticed something strange happening on Twitter that appears to amount to the censorship of common terms associated with the LGBTQ+ community. 

On Saturday (1 April), Twitter users and LGBTQ+ activists spotted that tweets shared by direct message (DM) no longer show a tweet preview if they include certain words. 

Sharing a tweet via DM should automatically bring up a preview of the tweet’s contents, but now users are seeing just a plain link if the tweet contains the word “trans”, “LGBT”, “LGBT+” or “BLM” (Black Lives Matter). 

More concerningly, tweets that feature terms that are widely regarded as slurs by the LGBTQ+ community – including “trans-identified” and “t***n” – preview as normal. As do tweets mentioning the trans-exclusionary term “LGB”. 

The concern around censorship in Twitter DMs is echoed by the UK-based Trans Safety Network, which reported that preliminary testing indicates that the platform is “deboosting tweets containing words”.

They include the words “trans”, “gay”, “lesbian”, “queer” and “bisexual”.

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jane fae*, chair of Trans Media Watch, told PinkNews: “Elon Musk arrived at Twitter, making great claims about his commitment to ‘free speech’.

“Absent some innocent reason for this happening – and it is hard to imagine what an innocent reason would look like – this would put the lie to that.”

If this is happening, fae said, “clearly he is one of those selective free speech warriors who is only pro speech that endorses his own personal preferences”.

“As for arguments that ‘trans’ topics may be sensitive: it does not make sense for DMs, and it certainly does not make sense when one sees that this ‘setting’ does not impact terms like ‘tro*n’ or ‘trans-identified’ that many trans folk find deeply hurtful.”

While this could simply be a Twitter glitch, it is perhaps unsurprising that LGBTQ+ users are concerned, as under the tenure of the platform’s owner, Elon Musk, posts mentioning the anti-LGBTQ+ ‘groomer’ narrative have soared by 119 per cent.

In February, researchers from the Centre for Countering Digital Hate found that Twitter is on track to make up to $19 million a year from ads on just 10 vitriolic anti-LGBTQ+ accounts reinstated by Elon Musk since he announced his general amnesty policy.  

PinkNews has reached out to Twitter for comment.

*jane fae does not capitalise her name. 

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