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Twitter May Be Restricting Visibility of LGBTQ+ Content in Direct Messages

Twitter May Be Restricting Visibility of LGBTQ+ Content in Direct Messages

Elon Musk pictured in suit and tie

The Elon Musk-owned social media platform has once again found itself in hot water.

It appears that Twitter is limiting the visibility of tweets containing the words "trans," "gay," "queer," and "LGBT" in direct messages, according to new research.

Twitter has been a hotbed of controversy and internal drama since its purchase by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in October of last year. Not only did Musk fire half of Twitter's workforce in the week following his buyout, he has also reportedly made moderation of hate speech, including anti-LGBTQ+ speech, laxer.

A study from the Center for Countering Digital Hate found, for example, that the number of tweets referring to LGBTQ+ people as "groomers" rose 119 percent since Musk took control of the platform.

Now, new evidence has come out that suggests Twitter is restricting the visibility of LGBTQ+ content sent via direct message.

The restrictions were first noticed by Twitter users before being publicized in a viral tweet from UK-based research collective Trans Safety Network.

Business Insider conducted internal testing using tweets containing the terms "trans," "transgender," "gay," "lesbian," "queer," "bisexual," and "intersex." These tweets appeared in Twitter DMs as URL links rather than the standard, easy-to-read preview format. This means that in order to see the tweet content, the recipient must open the link without being aware of what it contains.

Twitter users have discovered that they can bypass the restriction by replacing certain characters with numbers or others symbols (e.g., "tr@ns" for "trans").

It is suspected that this may represent a new form of content moderation targeting LGBTQ+ content. Musk, who has yet to comment on the situation, has been embroiled in controversy for engaging in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric before. In a tweet posted July 24, 2020, he wrote "Pronouns suck," and later made headlines for liking and replying to anti-trans posts from Chaya Raichik, owner of the anti-LGBTQ+, far-right Libs of TikTok account.

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