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Twitter just made it even harder for trans people to report online abuse

online hate speech, as a graphic
Photo: Shutterstock

X, formerly known as Twitter, has removed the ability for users to specifically report anti-trans harassment on the site.

The change was pointed out by Alejandra Caraballo, a civil rights attorney and Harvard Law School instructor well-known among LGBTQ+ activists for her work tracking hate. Caraballo posted screenshots of the new hate speech reporting system that offers users a list of categories under which to place their complaints.

According to 2022 screenshots on Pocket-lint, there used to be more specific categories, with “misgendering or deadnaming” being one of them. Others included “Using slurs or harmful tropes” and “spreading fear about me because of my identity.” Now, those have been removed in favor of more general categories like “Dehumanization,” “Violent Speech,” and “Abuse & Harassment,” though the description for the “Dehumanization” category does mention gender identity as an example of something one could use to dehumanize another person

Caraballo pointed out that the platform “has also removed the ability to add context to the report.”

Many in Caraballo’s replies voiced the negative consequences these changes will have.

“Dehumanization is the closest match, but the removal of context makes it easier for them to ignore obvious dog whistles. Likely that was not an accident,” one user wrote.

Another user described issues they’ve had reporting: “There was supposed to be an option where you can pick some of the account’s tweets as example of their misbehaviour but last time I reported someone I tried to use this feature but it wouldn’t work and would restart the report, which honestly is a big setback.”

This is far from X’s first move against trans people since Elon Musk – who has a long history of spreading transphobic rhetoric and claims to be a crusader for free speech – took the helm. In April, the site quietly removed a line in its “Hateful Conduct” policy that protected transgender people from online abuse.

In response, GLAAD shared a February 2023 poll of LGBTQ+ Twitter users that found 60% of respondents had experienced an increase in abusive and hateful speech on Twitter since Elon Musk took over the company.

Additionally, the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) found that posts linking LGBTQ+ people to “grooming” and pedophilia have increased by 119% under Musk.

According to the study, five high-profile anti-LGBTQ+ accounts—including Chaya Raichik’s Libs of TikTok, Jaimee Michell’s Gays Against Groomers, and those of right-wing pundit Christopher Rufo, YouTuber Tim Pool, and James Lindsay—are set to generate $6.4 million in ad revenue per year for Twitter.

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