X Reinstates Ban on Anti-Trans Hate Speech Amid Controversy

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X reinstates ban on anti-trans hate speech

Policy Update and Owner’s Stance

X has discreetly reintroduced a policy aimed at preventing harassment, specifically prohibiting the practice of misgendering or deadnaming users, in a move to foster a safer, more inclusive environment. Despite this significant change, the platform’s billionaire owner, Elon Musk, who initially removed this rule in April 2023, hinted at a possible reversal following criticisms from Chaya Raichik, known online as Libs of TikTok, a figure associated with anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments. For more details, visit the official policy update announcement on X’s website.

Detailed Revisions to X’s Anti-Harassment Policy

According to recent adjustments in X’s “Use of Prior Names and Pronouns” section, the administration aims to reduce the visibility of content that intentionally misgenders individuals or uses their former names, especially targeting those undergoing gender transition. However, this policy now requires complaints from the victims themselves to initiate any action, as reported by Ars Technica. This marks a significant shift from Musk’s earlier decision to eliminate similar restrictions set by the platform in 2018. Learn more about the history of online harassment policies here.

Musk’s Responses and Public Reaction to the Reinstated Policy

Following the policy’s reinstatement, Raichik tested its limits by intentionally misgendering and deadnaming prominent transgender figures. Musk reassured her of no suspension, indicating a potential lack of strict enforcement. However, Musk later clarified that the policy is designed to target “repeated, targeted harassment,” aiming to make the digital space safer for all users. Critics like Raichik have questioned the fairness and scope of what constitutes harassment, overlooking that the harassment policy applies universally. Discover the broader implications of online hate speech.

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Broader Implications and Community Responses

The debate intensified as Raichik’s followers began violating the newly reinstated policy, prompting inquiries about the potential reversal of the guidelines due to censorship concerns. Musk’s history of controversial statements and the resulting fear among the transgender community about his influence on X have been exacerbated by an increase in hate speech on the platform since his acquisition, leading to a loss of major advertisers.

Industry-Wide Concerns and Predictions for the Future

The update coincides with a call to action from organizations like GLAAD for clearer policies against hate speech, noting X’s lag behind other major platforms in explicitly addressing issues such as misgendering and deadnaming. Experts like Media Matters’ Ari Drennen anticipate that X might revert to stricter policies to appeal to advertisers seeking a hate-free advertising environment.

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