When it comes to anti-LGBTQ harassment, Twitter’s actions need to match its policies

When it comes to anti-LGBTQ harassment, Twitter’s actions need to match its policies

July 22, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

“Via email, Twitter said that it is looking into why the report was denied,” the report continued. “It didn’t respond by press time.” Media Matters reported on Friday that the right-wing account in question eventually did get temporarily suspended after tweeting out the term numerous times to its more than 310,000 followers. The account had in one instance used the term against a Texas mom who had tweeted about getting her child, who is trans, out of Texas.

“The move came after Reddit confirmed that baselessly targeting LGBTQ people with ‘groomer’ slander violates its content policies,” Media Matters said. “TikTok and Meta, parent company to Facebook and Instagram, also say that calling LGBTQ people ‘groomers’ is a violation of their existing policies.” Media Matters had on Tuesday also urged Twitter to follow Reddit on this issue.

Previous research has already shown that tech companies have not been doing enough to protect young LGBTQ people in particular. The Global Project Against Hate and Extremism (GPAHE) said in a January report that anti-LGBTQ organizations have continued to disseminate harmful “conversion therapy” lies by simply rebranding themselves with terms like “reintegrative therapy” and “unwanted same-sex attraction.” New words, same old hate. In the case of the “groomer” term, it resurrects a trope from the days of washed-out singer Anita Bryant, who sought to portray gay people as a threat to children back in the late 1970s. 

The right wing’s usage of this term is also incredibly damaging to actual survivors of sexual abuse. “’Grooming’ is a term that allows survivors of child sexual abuse to understand their horrifying experiences,” Media Matters reported. “By changing its meaning, right-wing activists are erasing those survivors’ experiences and obfuscating harm by conflating genuine abuse with exposure to the existence of LGBTQ people.”

Right-wing figures are actually not concerned about children at all. If they were, they’d demand the humane treatment of migrant children in U.S. custody. They’d support banning weapons of death in order to ensure another Uvalde would never happen again. They would support climate measures so that children will actually get a chance to grow up in an inhabitable world. But they don’t. Instead, their goal is to push LGBTQ people back into the closet, and they’re using children to try to achieve that. 

GLAAD said that recent findings show the slew of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced by Republicans are also having a negative effect, even if they all haven’t been passed into law. The data showed that 7 in 10 LGBTQ people experienced discrimination in 2022, a “disturbing” increase of nearly 25% compared to 2020. Transgender and nonbinary people have been particularly affected, singled out for attack by bigoted, obsessed state lawmakers and activists. 

“We found that more than half (54%) of transgender and nonbinary people feel unsafe walking in their own neighborhoods, compared to 36% of all LGBTQ adults, as well as less safe in various environments, from work, to social media, or in a typical store,” the 2022 Accelerating Acceptance Study: Unsafe in America report said. “Sadly, 2022 has already seen at least 16 transgender people fatally shot or killed by other violent means,” HRC said earlier this year, many of them people of color.

“These findings are distressing, but not unforeseen,” said GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis, noting book bans and bills forcing censorship in classrooms and “bans on evidence-based healthcare and access to school sports.” The attacks are also being encouraged by right-wing propagandists, who are saying that pro-LGBTQ parents should be arrested and have their kids taken away, and social media trolls who have singled out targets, including Pride events and drag story hours, to their rabid followers.

Media Matters LGBTQ Program Director Ari Drennen pointed to one library reading hour that turned outright dangerous after it was singled out for harassment by bad actors.

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”Twitter now says the rhetoric that led to these instances violates its rules,” Drennen tweeted. “Great. But rather than taking action after an incident that has the potential to turn violent has already occurred, the platform should act now to enforce its stated rules and protect its LGBTQ users.”

RELATED STORIES: 

‘Unsafe in America’: Survey finds ‘disturbing’ increase in discrimination against LGBTQ people

Conservatives are attempting to stoke fascist violence against trans Americans, and it’s working

Conservatives are now saying parents should be arrested and kids taken away for pro-LGBTQ stances



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