A new Media Matters analysis of tweets during June — CEO Linda Yaccarino's first month — confirms the prevalence of anti-LGBTQ hate speech on Twitter (rebranded as X), despite denials from Yaccarino and the company.
Media Matters compiled the top 1,000 daily tweets about LGBTQ pride during Pride Month — from June 1-30, 2023 — and analyzed the 200 accounts that earned the most interactions on those tweets. We found that nearly one-third of the top 200 accounts that tweeted about pride during the time studied -- thereby significantly contributing to discussions on Pride Month on the platform -- have posted anti-LGBTQ content on Twitter.
Other key findings include:
- The top 1,000 daily pride-related posts during Pride Month earned nearly 10 million interactions, and 42% of these interactions (over 4 million) were earned on posts from right-wing accounts that post anti-LGBTQ content.
- Six of the top 10 accounts that earned the most engagement on pride-related posts during Pride Month were right-wing accounts that post anti-LGBTQ content — Graham Allen, Andy Ngo, Matt Walsh, Charlie Kirk, Jordan Peterson, and Ian Miles Cheong.
- Two of the top 10 pride-related posts during Pride Month were from Allen and Kirk.
- Top pride-related posts during June from right-wing accounts mocked Pride Month, promoted Walsh’s anti-trans film What is a Woman? and pushed anti-LGBTQ rhetoric such as calling pride “a sin.”
Following a Bloomberg article that outlined Twitter’s increased levels of hate speech since Elon Musk took over the company and how the persistence of this content has pushed advertisers away, Twitter decried the report as “absolutely false,” claiming that “99.99% of Tweet impressions are healthy.” Yaccarino, who started as the company's CEO on June 5, claimed the platform has “made progress on reducing the spread of hate speech” and called the data in Bloomberg’s report “incorrect, misleading, and outdated.”
But, as Samantha Riedel wrote for Them, it is “pretty easy to say that you’ve reduced ‘hate speech’ on your platform when you also take a narrow view of how that term can be applied.” Under Musk, Twitter has rolled back anti-LGBTQ moderation policies, such as removing specific protections for transgender users who are deadnamed or misgendered — meaning, according to Riedel, that “a huge amount of targeted anti-transgender harassment would likely no longer be considered harmful by Twitter’s definition.”
Musk repeatedly pushed anti-LGBTQ hate during Yaccarino's first month as CEO
In addition to rolling back LGBTQ protections on the platform, Musk has repeatedly tweeted anti-LGBTQ rhetoric himself, including since Yaccarino took over as CEO in early June. During the first week of Pride Month, Musk actually interacted with anti-LGBTQ content and accounts at least 46 times, including calling gender-affirming care “castration” and agreeing with an anti-trans account about removing “the TQ+ cult” from the LGBTQ community.
Under Yaccarino, Twitter allowed Daily Wire host Matt Walsh’s virulently anti-trans movie What is a Woman? to stream on the platform on the first day of Pride Month. Musk later removed any restrictions on the movie, interacting with Walsh and Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boreing, promoting the film by sharing a Daily Wire tweet containing the entire 95-minute movie, and claiming, “Every parent should watch this.”
On June 21, Musk tweeted a new Twitter policy, claiming that “the words ‘cis’ or ‘cisgender’ are considered slurs on the platform,” and noting, “Repeated, targeted harassment against any account will cause the harassing accounts to receive, at minimum, temporary suspensions.”
Twitter’s rollback of LGBTQ protections and Musk’s hateful rhetoric on the platform come as Yaccarino tries to court advertisers back with claims that the company has reduced hate speech. But the reality is that lawyers for the company have admitted that Yaccarino’s leadership “will not result in a different content-moderation strategy for Twitter, a company that will still be owned by Musk and led by a person chosen by Musk,” and the platform has remained a cesspool of hateful rhetoric even under the new CEO.
Right-wing accounts that post anti-LGBTQ content accounted for nearly one-third of pride-related posts during Yaccarino's first month as CEO
A December 2022 report from Media Matters and GLAAD found that anti-LGBTQ rhetoric on the platform increased after Musk took over Twitter — with 9 anti-LGBTQ accounts seeing substantial increases in both retweets of and mentions in tweets with the “groomer” slur in the month after Musk took charge (over 1,200% and over 1,100%, respectively).
Now, Media Matters has analyzed the top 1,000 daily tweets about LGBTQ pride in June and found that of the 200 accounts that earned the most engagement, nearly one-third of them were right-wing accounts that post anti-LGBTQ content. In fact, the account that earned the most engagement on pride-related tweets in June was Turning Point USA contributor Graham Allen, followed by entertainment account Pop Crave and right-wing media personalities Ngo and Walsh, who have been vocally anti-LGBTQ.
In fact, 6 of the top 10 accounts that earned the most engagement on pride-related posts during Pride Month were right-wing accounts that post anti-LGBTQ content:
- Graham Allen: Over 571,000 interactions earned on 20 pride-related posts
- Andy Ngo: Nearly 475,000 interactions earned on 42 posts
- Matt Walsh: Over 459,000 interactions earned on 16 posts
- Charlie Kirk: Nearly 374,000 interactions earned on 29 posts
- Jordan Peterson: Over 200,000 interactions earned on 37 posts
- Ian Miles Cheong: Over 154,000 interactions earned on 27 posts
Right-wing accounts that post anti-LGBTQ content earned millions of interactions on pride-related posts during Yaccarino's first month as CEO
The top 1,000 daily pride-related posts during Pride Month earned nearly 10 million interactions, and 42% of these interactions (over 4 million) were earned on posts from right-wing accounts that post anti-LGBTQ content.
Two of the top 10 pride-related posts during Pride Month were from Turning Point USA’s Allen and Kirk:
During Yaccarino's first month as CEO, right-wing accounts earned tens of thousands of interactions on anti-LGBTQ tweets
Top pride-related posts from known right-wing accounts during June mocked Pride Month, promoted Walsh’s What is a Woman? and pushed anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, such as calling pride “a sin.”
- Walsh twice urged his followers to keep his anti-trans film trending and “keep the pressure on Twitter.”
- OutKick TV host Tomi Lahren posted, “So they say it’s ‘pride month’ so I guess I can be proud to be straight then?"
- Ben Shapiro mockingly compared defacing the American flag as the “height of patriotism,” while burning the Progress Pride flag is a “blasphemous hate crime and the full brunt of the law will be brought to bear.”
- Far-right podcaster Steven Crowder tweeted, “I stand with Daily Wire and Matt Walsh” in support of What is a Woman? and encouraged his audience to do the same.
- Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) responded to an article calling him an “extremist lawmaker” for pressuring the Defense Department to cancel a drag event by saying that “Pride Month is off to a great start!”
- Kirk tweeted, “Pride is a sin.”
- Peterson fearmongered about the threat of pride.
Advertisers should be skeptical of Twitter's claims of improvement, especially as the company tries to rebrand itself -- as this new data shows the prevalence of anti-LGBTQ hate on the platform and contradicts those statements.
Using NewsWhip, Media Matters compiled the top 1,000 tweets that included the terms “pride”, “pride month”, “pride 2023” or “pride2023” for each day from June 1, 2023, through June 30, 2023. We reviewed data for these tweets, including total interactions (retweets and likes).
We aggregated accounts which posted the tweets and ranked the accounts by total interactions and then three researchers independently coded the top 200 accounts for two factors: (1) whether an account belonged to a known anti-LGBTQ figure or posted anti-LGBTQ content, or (2) whether an account belonged to a known right-wing media outlet, personality, or politician or promoted right-wing media or talking points. We reviewed each account individually and each account was given a final code if two of the three researchers independently awarded it the same code.
Data contributions from Camden Carter, Charis Hoard, Zachary Pleat, Chloe Simon, Audrey McCabe, and Kayla Gogarty.