Erasing bisexuality: Twitter’s censure of bisexuals

Iqra Choudhry discusses Twitter's latest international censure of its bisexual users
Iqra ChoudhryBy Iqra Choudhry  •  Nov 6, 2017 at 7:43am  •  Human Rights, LGBT*, Mental Health, Social Issues

One of the constant struggles of being a bisexual person is the erasure that comes with it, be it in social situations where bisexuals are deemed either ‘gay’ or ‘straight’ depending on the perceived gender of a partner; or in popular media, where the word ‘bisexual’ is very rarely used, even to describe characters who are clearly bisexual (*cough* Orange Is The New Black *cough*).

It’s hard out here for bisexual people – the stigma attached to bisexuality is not one that the heterosexual or LGBT* communities want to tackle head on, and for many bisexuals, it can be very demoralising having to constantly reaffirm that yes, we do exist.

 

It’s cool for Trump to use their platform to start world war 3, but heaven forbid someone tweet a selfie proud of their sexuality

Lizz Lennox, Verbal Remedy Contributor

 

In a highly controversial and contested move, earlier today, Twitter put in place censors for the tags #bisexual and #bisexuality. Any user in any country searching these tags will find tweets, but none with any video, photo or news content.

The move was highlighted by BiPride UK’s twitter account, which confirmed in interactions with twitter users across the world that the content was blocked internationally, with users as far apart as Australia, Sweden, the Philippines, Mexico, Indonesia and Croatia confirming that searching the #bisexual and #bisexuality tags does not lead to any content.

Twitter has justified the move by claiming that searching the two tags may lead to ‘potentially sensitive content’, but a quick search by our writing team found that several searches for pornographic content were not limited or censored in any way.

Other social platforms have come under fire this year for similar censorship. YouTube was petitioned after age-restricting all LGBT+ content, which understandably angered the LGBT+ community, as younger LGBT+ people, especially those who are isolated, often use social media as a way to connect with others who have similar experiences, or to search content to educate themselves.

 

Statement from Twitter’s Values

 

Twitter has also recently come over fire for its constant inaction to delete or suspend accounts responsible for racial harassment, sexual harassment and other discriminatory actions. It has also angered millions of users by continuing to platform Neo-nazi users in all countries but Germany, where Neo-nazi users are blocked to comply with German law.

Verbal Remedy reached out to several LGBT+ individuals for their comments. Hannah Fitzpatrick, Newcastle University’s LGBT+ officer, was frustrated by the move: “Once again, another social media platform has deemed an identity of the LGBT+ community to be too adult, too sensitive, too sexualised, to be seen. Like it or not, sites like Twitter are how a lot of people learn about the world.”

She went on to talk about the importance of not censoring bisexuality: “Bisexuality is something young people deserve to learn about – it could even save lives. You can’t erase an identity, you can’t erase a community – despite the internet trying. It is incredibly dismissive of twitter to censor bisexual hashtags when bisexual identities are too often erased in all other forms of media.”

Verbal Remedy contributor Lizz Lennox summed up frustrations perfectly, adding: “It’s cool for Trump to use their platform to start World War Three, but heaven forbid someone tweet a selfie proud of their sexuality!”

Verbal Remedy has reached out to Twitter’s press response email for clarification as to the decision made to block the hashtags, and expressing our sentiments that such actions are in direct violation of their diversity and inclusion statements. At the time of writing, a Twitter representative has yet to reply.

A change.org petition, calling for an end to the censure, is calling for signatures: feel free to sign here.

And if you’d like to complain about Twitter’s action personally, feel free to submit a complaint at: https://support.twitter.com/forms 

About the Author

Proud Muslim. Functional insomniac. Caffeine addict. Unashamedly working class. Being punk rock and challenging stereotypes since 2012.

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