Many have suspected an internal rebellion at Twitter against owner Elon Musk’s vision of a free speech platform. And now we have evidence to show that Musk’s moves to make Twitter more of a free speech platform have been successful despite attempts by his disgruntled anti-free speech employees to thwart him.
In recent weeks, Twitter has begun to slow its censorship of those criticizing the “transgender” movement. The shift came after the platform changed its “deadnaming” and “misgendering” policy on April 18, and following several staff resignations, including Trust and Safety chief Ella Irwin’s departure on June 1.
Twitter saw a 261 percent drop in censored users and posts critiquing the left’s radical “transgender” ideology in the month after the policy change (April 18 through May 17, 2023) compared with the month prior (March 18 through April 17, 2023), according to data found in MRC Free Speech America’s CensorTrack.org database.
The month prior showed an unprecedented spike in censorship of content related to the “transgender” issue. Although it is too soon to tell whether this recent free speech win will last, the drop from 142 cases of censorship the month before the policy changed to just 37 cases after shows considerable promise.
MRC Free Speech America researchers have repeatedly found Twitter to be by far the internet's worst censor. Even when it came to Big Tech censoring critics of the left’s radical “transgender” ideology in the past year (June 10, 2022 - June 9, 2023), Twitter made up 92 percent (or 635) of the total 689 cases of censorship and two thirds of those cases occurred under Musk’s leadership. MRC Free Speech America Vice President Dan Schneider attributes this to embattled employees’ fighting tooth and nail against Musk’s vision of Twitter as a free speech platform.
“Right after Musk took over, he announced that he wanted to make Twitter a free speech platform for the world. But we immediately saw rank-and-file employees launch a mutiny against him,” Schneider said. “Our numbers show that censorship exploded in the first few months after Musk bought the platform. Basically, there’s been a civil war going on inside of Twitter.”
It seems this “civil war” and “mutiny” escalated when Twitter staff blocked users from drawing attention to a “Trans Day of Vengeance” protest that was set to take place on April 1, just days after a Tennessee school shooting perpetrated by a radical left-wing “transgender” individual. Censorship skyrocketed, affecting prominent users like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), The Federalist CEO Sean Davis and The Daily Wire podcast host Michael Knowles, RedState’s editor-at-large Ben Kew, The Daily Wire’s investigative reporter Luke Rosiak, The Post Millennial and its senior editor Angy Ngo, podcaster and journalist James Lindsay and radio host Andrew Wilkow.
Twitter employees censored no fewer than 66 tweets exposing the disturbing protest over the course of four days. In the case of Knowles,Twitter censored a Bible verse condemning vengeance. He posted Romans 12:19 alongside the “Trans Day of Vengeance” promotional graphic calling attention to the protest. "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord,’" he tweeted. The platform later reinstated the tweet.
At the time, Twitter’s Trust and Safety chief Irwin defended the sweeping censorship related to tweets promoting the “Trans Day of Vengeance,” but she neglected to explain why those calling attention to the protest were also censored. “We had to automatically sweep our platform and remove >5000 tweets /retweets of this poster,” she tweeted. “We do not support tweets that incite violence irrespective of who posts them. ‘Vengeance’ does not imply peaceful protest. Organizing or support for peaceful protests is ok.”
The internal censorship scuffle came to a head when Musk tweeted The Daily Wire’s What is a Woman? documentary and said that “Every parent should watch this.”
It all comes back to Twitter’s infamous “hateful conduct” policy. The platform removed parts of the policy that prohibited “misgendering” and “deadnaming,” or referring to a “transgender” individual by the person’s birth name and pronoun instead of the preferred name and pronoun after “transition” on April 18. Six weeks after the policy change, The Daily Wire had planned to tweet out the What is a Woman? exclusive documentary on the anniversary of its release, June 1, but Twitter staff had other ideas.
The Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boreing tweeted that Twitter employees claimed the platform would not promote the documentary as The Daily Wire initially paid the company to do because of “misgendering” included in the film. When Boreing brought up the policy change, Twitter staff reportedly informed him that “they only removed ‘misgendering’ from their policy because they didn’t need to be that specific, but that they still consider ‘misgendering’ abuse and harassment.”
Boreing noted that the platform planned to restrict the reach of What is a Woman? so that even The Daily Wire’s “own followers would not be able to see it in their feeds.” He added, “This, they said, is part of [Twitter’s freedom of] ‘speech not reach’ policy.”
Musk, however, was having none of it. He responded to Boreing, in a tweet saying, “This was a mistake by many people at Twitter. It is definitely allowed.” On the evening of June 1, Twitter initially restricted the reach of the film, preventing users from liking, tweeting or sharing the video. But by the morning of June 2, Musk himself tweeted the documentary and said via tweet, “Every parent should watch this.” That same day, Irwin announced her departure from Twitter along with Brand Safety employee Maie Aiyed and Brand Safety & Ad Quality head A.J. Brown.
Every parent should watch this https://t.co/pIp6UP6vq8— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 2, 2023
“It appears to me that the head of the mutiny decided to walk the plank instead of complying with orders,” Schneider said. He added that “Elon Musk finally put a halt to the mutiny when he tweeted Matt Walsh’s What is a Woman?. Censorship has been in rapid decline, and he is now able to make his platform a true platform for free speech.”
Musk’s efforts to promote free speech on the “transgender” issue have come just in time. A new Gallup poll found that “A majority, 55%, consider ‘changing one’s gender’ to be more ‘morally wrong.’” In October a similar poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates found that 75 percent of voters “believe that the transgender movement has gone too far by encouraging underage minors to use drugs and surgery to transition to the opposite sex.” Now the majority of Americans can enjoy true free speech and speak their minds on Twitter.
Musk standing his ground is a good start to making Twitter a free speech platform, but It is impossible to ignore the massive amount of censorship that has occurred under his watch to date.
Censorship of those who speak out against the left’s radical “transgender” ideology tripled over the last year, largely because of unchecked censorship on Twitter. Using the MRC CensorTrack.org database, MRC Free Speech America found that Big Tech collectively silenced 689 accounts or posts from users who dared critique the left’s “transgender” narrative between June 10, 2022 and June 9, 2023. That’s a 359% increase from the year before when platforms censored users 192 times between June 10, 2021 and June 9, 2022. The overwhelming majority of this year’s cases (635 of 689, or 92%) were a result of Twitter censorship.
The platform silenced mothers concerned about children being indoctrinated by the left’s woke, “transgender” narrative and detransitioned women sounding the alarm about the horrific reality of medical transition. The platform also halted users from exposing which children’s hospitals offered transition treatments to minors.
Twitter suspended Moms for Liberty's account in July 2022, after the organization tweeted a response to a tweet about California’s SB107 bill that made California a sanctuary state for minors seeking gender transition treatments, according to purported screenshots tweeted by co-founder of the organization, Tiffany Justice. "Gender dysphoria is a mental health disorder that is being normalized by predators across the USA,” the tweet read. “California kids are at extreme risk from predatory adults. Now they want to ‘liberate’ children all over the country. Does a double mastectomy on a preteen sound like progress?"
The Post Millenial reported that “Twitter claimed that the account was limited for ‘violating our rules against hateful conduct.’” Twitter’s rules prohibit users from “targeting individuals or groups with content that references forms of violence” and the “dehumanization of a group of people based on their … gender [or] gender identity.” Starting the day after Twitter locked the Moms for Liberty account, Justice tweeted at Twitter and Twitter Support every day for five days, asking for the platform to restore the Moms For Liberty account. The platform eventually did restore the organization’s access to the account but never restored the censored tweet.
Last October, Sinéad Watson, a woman who identified as a man and has since detransitioned and identifies as a woman again, tweeted about her experience with gender dysphoria and supporting others who struggle with gender identity. “Gender dysphoria is a horrible mental illness that nearly cost me my life, but I am no longer willing to lie or be 'polite' about it. I've seen and felt too much pain to care anymore. The 'gender' industry is evil. It has ruined even more lives than I can count, and I'm done with it," she tweeted according to screenshots she shared. Twitter locked her account for allegedly "violating [its] rules against hateful conduct" and Watson had to delete the tweet in order to regain access to her account. "I appealed, as the tweet clearly isn't hateful, but they rejected it anyway," Watson explained in a tweet.
Twitter also placed sensitive content filters over tweets by the Libs of TikTok and Billboard Chris accounts which tried to expose children's hospitals that perform “gender-affirming” treatments and care.
Libs of TikTok tweeted a video of a local news segment reporting on Akron Children's Hospital’s “Gender Affirming Center.” The account noted that the hospital offers puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones and that “They treat kids as young as SEVEN. One of the doctors claims puberty suppression just 'buys time.'" Canadian traveling protester of gender ideology, Billboard Chris, shared several videos from Boston Children's Hospital that featured staff members discussing the process of surgical transition for underage children.
In both cases, Twitter placed a sensitive content filter over the videos shared. Such filters require users who have not changed their default settings to click through the notice in order to view the content. Those without using the default setting in the mobile application are unable to click to view the content at all.
Obviously, Twitter, although the primary culprit, is not the only platform with a censorship problem. Video platforms particularly targeted those attempting to share their personal experiences with gender “transition.”
Independent Women's Forum created a series called "Identity Crisis," in which it interviewed the mothers of girls who “transitioned” to appear as men and then detransitioned. In one video, the organization interviewed a mother of a teen whose school began socially “transitioning” her daughter without her mother's knowledge. “[The school] proceeded to tell me I have no say over anything my daughter wants to go by, or what’s in her record or anything. The only thing I had say over was what her name was on her transcript,” the girl’s mother Susie said.
IWF attempted to help Susie and other women share their stories more widely by promoting the video series and turning some of the videos into YouTube ads, but the anti-free speech, Google-owned platform claimed the video was "not eligible" under the "Health in personalized advertising" policy. The policy restricts "Physical or mental health conditions, including diseases, sexual health, and chronic health conditions, which are health conditions that require long-term care or management," and "Products, services, or procedures to treat or manage chronic health conditions, which includes over-the-counter medications and medical devices."
A lesser-known video platform, Vimeo, similarly blocked a documentary detailing the very real damage the radical left’s gender ideology has caused children and families, according to The Daily Wire. The film Dead Name,” revealed the struggles and concerns of three parents whose children began identifying as the opposite sex, The Daily Wire reported. The film followed the stories of a mother of a 4-year-old boy who’s daycare reportedly began socially transitioning him, a mother who said Planned Parenthood prematurely prescribed her daughter testosterone during a Telehealth meeting, and a father who said cross-sex hormones hurt his son who died at just 18 while fighting cancer.
Vimeo deleted the producer’s account and removed the video for allegedly “violating our Terms of Service prohibiting discriminatory or hateful content,” the platform reportedly told The Daily Wire. But the filmmakers patently disagreed with Vimeo’s assessment of the film. “The film is the opposite of hate speech,” documentary director Taylor Reece said, according to The Daily Wire. “It’s love speech. In no way do any of these three parents, who tell the story of what it’s like when their child starts a journey toward transition, spew hate or dogma. Their stories are painstakingly personal, and at times unimaginable.”
Reece added that, “Unfortunately, there are factions out there who do not want this narrative and they have perfected the playbook on getting work like this ‘canceled.’” Reece reportedly said that the anti-free speech left’s censorship strategy backfired, as the documentary’s sales actually increased after it moved to another platform.
Conservatives are under attack. Contact Twitter at (415) 222-9670 and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on so-called hate speech and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.