Twitter Protects Hate: How I Was Suspended For Defending LGBT Rights
Twitter’s moderation algorithm punishes the people fighting against hatred on their platform
Recently a prominent “Gender Critical” (GC) activist wrote “I preferred AIDS [to the trans rights movement]”, which genuinely is one of the most revolting things I’ve ever read. It’s not just the utter disregard for the millions of LGBT people who have suffered and died of the fatal disease (at one point had killed 10% of gay men in the USA in a matter of years), and it’s not the complete dehumanisation of trans people — comparing the joy in coming out and our struggle for rights to dying slowly, it’s also that this came from a prominent GC activist and none of them spoke out against it.
I highlighted this tweet to my followers… and had my account locked for 12 hours. Locking is what happens when a tweet of yours is reported for abuse and the Twitter moderation algorithm decides what you have said is hateful. Obviously any non-human algorithm is going to be imperfect, I understand that moderating the 500 million tweets sent on Twitter every day is a difficult task! Also tweeting when upset makes you more prone to write something that might trigger the algorithm — clearly it doesn’t do well with bitter sarcasm. But also when you are a prominent feminist and LGBT person on Twitter there are groups of people who report every single tweet you make in the hopes of tricking the algorithm into suspending your account. Talking to exGC people it seems that there are even organised “reporting groups” set up to target prominent trans people for this.
So my 12 hours passed and Dennis was permanently suspended from Twitter… until last night when Twitter must have decided they made a mistake and they fully restored his account with all his tweets intact (the above tweet is not out of character for him at all). This is pretty frustrating on its own, Twitter has a terrible record for banning LGBT people for speaking up for their rights and for doing nothing about the abuse we face constantly on their platform. But also JK Rowling decided cheerily to welcome him back, because of course she did.
One of the defining characteristics of the GC movement is how they launder extremism by never calling each other out for any reason. This allows for the movement to campaign to remove all the trans rights we have today— or even to eliminate trans people altogether — whilst calling us hyperbolic for reacting to that. This is in sharp contrast to the LGBT rights and feminist movements which constantly criticise their own members (often way too readily for the most minor things). But this solidarity between moderates, extremists and everyone between also helps with indoctrinating new people into the GC movement. You follow someone because they share your scepticism about a particular trans athlete, but they are friends with someone who wants to ban all trans people from all sport and their friendliness means you are more likely to follow them too. Then that second person is friends with someone who wants to ban all trans people from public spaces but you see people you already trust interacting so you follow them too. Then that person is friends with someone who is part of a hate group calling to “eliminate transgenderism” and suddenly you’re down the rabbit hole. This is very similar to “the alt-right pipeline”. Of course the worst thing about JK Rowling’s involvement in the campaign against trans rights is that everything she does is massively amplified due to her huge following and celebrity status, so seeing her cheerily welcome this guy back means there will probably be a load of new people being given an implicit recommendation for him and his views.
So I replied with two tweets: one showing what her friend thinks about LGBT people, and one providing some extra statistics around the topic. I did this in the hope that some of the people passing by would at least have the full context of what is going on. And the tweet that you can see at the top of this article, the one calmly presenting some statistics about AIDS in support of LGBT rights, is what got my account suspended. This means it might never come back.
If you find this as frustrating as I do then please contact @TwitterSupport. I’ve sent an appeal, but I don’t suppose making some noise about this will hurt. Sometimes people do get their Twitter accounts back, Dennis for example, but the system is so random and broken I don’t have much faith in it.
If you want to hear more from me then please follow me here on Medium and also on YouTube. Fortunately just the other day I made my cartoons account into a separate business account so it has been spared, so perhaps follow Katy’s Shit Cartoons too.
And just on the off chance, if you work for Twitter and can help I’d really appreciate it! You can send me a private message on Medium.
Twitter it is really past time that you step up how your moderation works. LGBT people and women shouldn’t have to deal with this.
EDIT: I’m back! Thank you everyone ❤