Twitter Trended Elliot Page’s Deadname Despite Its Hateful Conduct Policy

Elliot Page’s name was trending on Twitter on Tuesday, which is against the site’s rules against hate speech.

The Umbrella Academy actor’s deadname — the name he used before coming out as trans — was included under the site’s trending category for at least 45 minutes.

Targeting others with repeated insults, tropes, or other content that seeks to dehumanize, degrade, or propagate negative or damaging stereotypes about a protected category is forbidden by Twitter’s hateful conduct policy.

The guideline specifies that “targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals” is prohibited.

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According to the site’s policies, trending topics are selected algorithmically; nevertheless, the firm “may not allow or may temporarily block content from showing in Trends until more context is available” if the information in question breaches its guidelines.

BuzzFeed News called a Twitter representative, and soon after, the name “Page” stopped trending. Trenton Kennedy, a representative for Twitter, confirmed that the trend was no longer visible.

Twitter Trended Elliot Page's Deadname Despite Its Hateful Conduct Policy
Twitter Trended Elliot Page’s Deadname Despite Its Hateful Conduct Policy

Kennedy sent a statement to BuzzFeed News in which he reaffirmed the site’s principles and acknowledged that it had been wrong to allow Page’s deceased name to trend.

“The term you referenced should not have been permitted to exist in Trends, and it has subsequently been removed and barred from appearing in Trends,” Kennedy stated. Our teams are always looking at ways to prevent this from happening internally.

“Elliot Page” later appeared as a trending topic, with the tweets generally praising the actor and defending them from anti-trans harassment.

BuzzFeed News asked the actor for a comment, but he didn’t answer right away.

Right-wing online personality and former psychology professor Jordan Peterson rose to popularity for declaring he would refuse to use the pronouns a trans or nonbinary student asked him to, sparking a wave of targeted harassment that gave rise to the trending of Page’s deadname.

Peterson’s Twitter account was suspended on June 22 after he wrote about Page — using their deadname and she/her pronouns — alleging they had their “breasts removed by a criminal physician.”

In a video in which Peterson repeatedly misgendered and deadnamed Page, he stated that his ban will continue “until I erase the vile tweet in question, and I would rather die than do that.”

After Peterson’s suspension, transphobic abuse of Page increased on Twitter, and his name became a trending topic. His deadname also trended in December, according to tweets at the time, due to similar harassment.

This isn’t the first time that Twitter trending topics have included hate speech or other illegal content. In 2018, the site promoted hashtags that pushed false conspiracy theories about pipe bombs delivered to Democrats being “false flags.” Days later, the term “Kill all Jews” briefly appeared on the trending tab. In India, last year calls for police to “kill” demonstrators trended for several hours. It was removed only after a huge outrage and an inquiry from BuzzFeed News.

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