Twitter owner Elon Musk stepped in and reversed the company’s decision to censor an airing of Daily Wire’s widely successful What Is A Woman documentary. The company had previously told Daily Wire that it would need to be edited to remove instances of “misgendering.”
In a series of tweets Thursday, Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boreing announced that the outlet had reached an agreement with Twitter to air the film for free in order to celebrate its one-year anniversary. Twitter was initially enthusiastic about the idea, Boering stated, adding that the platform offered the opportunity to buy a package to host the movie on a dedicated event page.
Daily Wire accepted and signed the agreement, at which point Twitter asked to see the film to better understand which segments might “trigger” viewers. After reviewing the film, Twitter informed the outlet that the package was no longer available. Instead, the video’s reach would be limited due to the platform’s “hateful conduct” policy because of “misgendering.”
“Specifically: In the film, a father refers to his 14-year-old daughter as ‘her,’ and a store owner uses the ‘wrong’ pronoun in a confrontation with a trans person,” Boering said. “We reminded Twitter they removed ‘misgendering’ from their policy, that the term ‘misgendering’ itself is misleading, and that enforcing such a policy places them on the side of the most radical elements in society – the side most opposed to their commitment to free speech.”
Boering went on to say that the documentary would be posted anyway and called on Elon Musk to reverse course.
16/16 We plan to post the movie anyway tonight at 8:00 pm eastern. Will Twitter make good on their threat to throttle it and label it "hateful conduct," or will Twitter live up to its great promise?
We'll all find out together.
— Jeremy Boreing (@JeremyDBoreing) June 1, 2023
Not long after Boering shared his thread, Musk reversed the decision, stating, “This was a mistake by many people at Twitter. It is definitely allowed.”
“Whether or not you agree with using someone’s preferred pronouns, not doing so is at most rude and certainly breaks no laws,” he continued, adding that he personally chooses to use someone’s preferred pronouns out of respect. “However, for the same reason, I object to rude behavior, ostracism or threats of violence if the wrong pronoun or name is used,” he added.
This was a mistake by many people at Twitter. It is definitely allowed.
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…
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 1, 2023
The issue presented an early test of Musk’s promises to honor free speech values on Twitter, which he has referred to as “the digital town square.”
Musk recently hired former NBCUniversal advertising chief Linda Yaccarino to operate Twitter as its CEO while staying on as chairman of “X” corporation. He noted that this is the same arrangement he has with SpaceX at the time.
In April, Yaccarino interviewed Musk and asked questions about potential advertiser input on content moderation and the potential revival of an “influence council.” During the interview, Yaccarino suggested that advertisers should work with Twitter to turn the company into a place where they will be “excited about investing more money.”
“Product development, ad safe, content moderation,” she said. “That’s what the influence is.”
Musk appeared to disagree with Yaccarino’s assertions, instead prioritizing the importance of free speech values over ad revenue. “It’s totally cool to say that you want to have your advertising appear in certain places in Twitter and not in other places,” he said, “but it is not cool to try to say what Twitter will do.”
The tech mogul went on to say that “freedom of speech is paramount,” adding “if that means losing advertiser dollars, we lose it.”
As of now, however, the videos still have disclaimers.