Twitter has, once again, quietly updated a significant policy without explanation. The company appears to have changed its hateful conduct policy to remove a section that protected transgender people from misgendering and deadnaming, in a move spotted by GLAAD.
Twitter had originally banned targeted deadnaming and misgendering in 2018. “We prohibit targeting others with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category,” the policy stated. “This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.”
That last sentence has now been removed. Twitter’s policy page indicates it was last updated in “April 2023.” But, as GLAAD points out, a look through the Wayback Machine suggests the change was made April 8th.
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 trans users at a time when anti-transgender rhetoric online is leading to real world discrimination and violence.— Sarah Kate Ellis (@sarahkateellis) April 18, 2023
GLAAD and others have condemned the move. “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,” GLADD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “While the rules were sparsely enforced, this greenlights further targeting of trans users,” wrote Alejandra Caraballo, clinical instructor at Harvard’s Cyberlaw Clinic, who also flagged the change.
Twitter so far hasn’t publicly commented on the rule change or provided an explanation. Elon Musk disbanded the company’s communications team.
However, Musk has previously signaled that he wanted to walk back the rules. One of his first moves as CEO was to restore a number of high profile users who had been banned under the previous policy. Around the same time, Bloomberg reported that Musk — who has repeatedly mocked people who specify their pronouns — had instructed staff to “review” that section of the company’s hateful conduct rules.