Science & Tech

What is going on with Elon Musk’s Twitter and the ‘transphobic’ Daily Wire documentary?

What is going on with Elon Musk’s Twitter and the ‘transphobic’ Daily Wire documentary?
Elon Musk claims governments could create ‘drone wars’ with AI developments

In news which is starting to feel like it isn’t really news anymore given how often it happens, Elon Musk’s Twitter is involved in yet another drama – this time over the “suppression” of a “transphobic” documentary by the right-wing media outlet the Daily Wire titled ‘What Is A Woman?’

The question has become an obsession for conservatives in current politics amid continued attacks on LGBT+ rights, with controversial Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene previously being ridiculed for answering the question by saying women are “the weaker sex”.

Promoted as “the question you’re not allowed to ask”, the film is helmed by American political commentator Matt Walsh – a man who previously and incorrectly claimed “millions” of young people are on hormone blockers (it’s actually 4,000), and that he’ll get $100,000 back from his YouTube channel if he stops misgendering trans activist Dylan Mulvaney.

The Daily Wire had planned to re-release the film on Thursday, one year on from its original publication, but surprisingly Twitter – currently owned by a businessman who has come under fire for “transphobic” posts and memes - had other plans.

The complaint

In a lengthy Twitter thread, the outlet’s co-founder Jeremy Boreing wrote: “Twitter cancelled a deal with [the Daily Wire] to premiere ‘What Is A Woman?’ for free on the platform because of two instances of ‘misgendering’.

“With Twitter’s recent commitments to free speech, we thought it would be the perfect place to distribute the film and drive the conversation forward on one of the most important topics of our day.

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“Twitter responded with enthusiasm and offered us the opportunity to buy a package to host the movie on a dedicated event page and to promote the event to every Twitter user over the first 10 hours.”

Boreing continued to say that they signed an agreement with Twitter for this offer, but after asking for and receiving a screener of the film to look over, the social media platform said it would not support the release and instead label it as “hateful conduct” due to “misgendering”.

They apparently told the Daily Wire the documentary would not be seen by followers in their own feeds, which led to Boreing calling on Musk to “reconsider this awful policy”.

He added: “If we can’t debate these issues on Twitter, where can we debate them? If conservatives aren’t welcome on Twitter, where are they welcome?

“It’s unlikely another centibillionare will come along to offer an alternative.”

Boreing concluded his complaint by saying that despite all this, the Daily Wire planned to upload the full documentary to Twitter anyway, and they did.

And thus, the tweet’s visibility was limited, with retweets turned off:

Musk’s response

While Twitter’s new CEO Linda Yaccarino has remained silent on the whole situation on her own profile, its owner (that’s Musk) soon replied to Boreing’s thread to stress this was a “mistake” made “by many people at Twitter” and the video is “definitely allowed”.

He said: “Whether or not you agree with using someone’s preferred pronouns, not doing so is at most rude and certainly breaks no laws.

“I should note that I do personally use someone’s preferred pronouns, just as I use someone’s preferred name, simply from the standpoint of good manners.

“However, for the same reason, I object to rude behaviour, ostracism or threats of violence if the wrong pronoun or name is used.”

The Tesla founder also responded to another user to say that the restriction on the video was “being fixed”, and it is no longer in effect at the time of writing.

In tweets posted later on Thursday, he said: “We’re updating the system tomorrow so that those who follow @RealDailyWire will see this in their feed, but it won’t be recommended to non-followers (nor will any advertising be associated with it).”

That’s because “advertisers have the right to decide what content their ads appear with, which will impact reach to some degree”, he said.

Despite this, Musk went on to claim “the controversy will drive viewership”, and joked “the Streisand Effect on this will set an all-time record” - referring to the phenomenon where attempts to suppress or censor something actually draws more attention to the thing in question.

Musk also doubled down on his stance on trans issues, confirming he would be lobbying legislators to “criminalise making severe, irreversible changes to children below the age of consent” through gender-affirming surgery, and that “nobody knows who they are as a child”.

Yes, he really said that.

The resignation of Twitter’s trust and safety lead

While all this was going on, the social media platform’s head of trust and safety, Ella Irwin, resigned from the company in the latest instance of someone leaving the organisation.

Irwin confirmed the decision to Reuters on Thursday but provided no further comment, Fortune said it had seen a screenshot showing her Slack account deactivated, and her blue tick affiliation with Twitter has been removed from her account on the platform:

The fallout continues…

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