June 12, 2024

The Trevor Project, a nonprofit suicide prevention hotline for LGBTQ youth, is quitting X because it’s become more of a bane than a boon.

The 25-year-old organization chalked the decision of leaving the platform—rather than remaining to challenge harmful narratives and rhetoric—up to “increased hate and vitriol on the platform targeting the LGBTQ community” owing to, among other things, “X’s removal of certain moderation functions,” it wrote in a statement on X yesterday (Nov. 9).

The group, which also runs its own social network for LGBTQ youth, isn’t swearing off social media entirely. It still maintains a presence on Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Facebook. “No online space is perfect, but having access to sufficient moderation capabilities is essential to maintaining a safer space for our community,” its statement read.

Elon Musk’s X, formerly Twitter, is increasingly unsafe for LGBTQ people

X and its billionaire owner Elon Musk have been criticized for fueling hate across the board, be it sexism or racism. It’s unsurprising that under him, LGBTQ discrimination has also proliferated.

Musk himself does a lot of the damage: Days after buying the platform, Musk boosted a false, homophobic rumor about Paul Pelosi, the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He’s mocked pronoun usage and smeared a gay former Twitter employee, Yael Roth, by falsely claiming that Roth supported child sexualization. During Pride Month, Musk liked and shared transphobic tweets and even vowed to actively lobby to criminalize aspects of trans health care for minors.

From a policy perspective, a number of protections on Musk’s platform have been stripped in the last year. Soon after Musk took the reins in October 2022, a number of suspended accounts, including anti-trans posters, were reinstated. Its safety and trust teams and management have undergone heavy churn. A big step back came in April 2023, when the platform decided to remove its 2018 provisions protecting trans and nonbinary users that prohibited misgendering and deadnaming (or referring to a person’s pre-transition name) on the platform.

The Trevor Project isn’t the only group being iced out by these moves. In the last six months, several pro-LGBTQ organizations including the San Francisco LGBT Center, LGBTQ Youth Scotland, and transgender charity Mermaids, have departed X.

Meanwhile, Musk’s own transgender daughter has renounced her father—although he blames her elite Los Angeles school for brainwashing her.

LGBTQ hate (on X and beyond), by the digits

45% to 33%: Drop in X’s score on the GLAAD Social Media Safety Index between 2022 to 2023. It’s ranked the lowest among Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube—all of whom improved their score in the last year.

99%: Hate posts by Twitter Blue (premium paid) users that X didn’t act on, British nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) said in June

4x: How much more likely LGBTQ youth are to commit suicide versus their peers, as per the Trevor Project

Quotable: X’s culture taking a turn for the worse

“Twitter was once a place where many marginalized people including LGBTQ people found community, and it’s become hostile. What we’re seeing isn’t really about censorship or discrimination of ideas. It’s about the kind of company Twitter wants to be and the kind of world they want to shape.”

Laurel Powell, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, to NBC in June 2023

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