Despite obvious setbacks from a certain administration that I'll leave unnamed, the the LGBTQ+ community has made great strides the past few years in the ongoing fight for equality. Just two years ago in 2015, gay marriage was legalized in the United States. In March of this year, California Governor Jerry Brown passed a law that declared all single-occupancy public bathrooms gender neutral. But unfortunately, despite these great strides, there are still some setbacks members of the LGBTQ+ community are facing. The most recent speed bump? Well, apparently, Twitter reportedly blocked photo searches for #bisexual.
Update: On Nov. 6, 2017, Twitter Support tweeted the following explanation as to why certain innocuous terms had been blocked from search.
Earlier: Allow me to elaborate on the situation. When you log on to Twitter and type the term #bisexual into your search bar, you get a "no results" message under the "Photos" tab. Obviously, this has members of the LGBTQ+ community and all of their allies outraged, as it contributes to the regular erasure of the bisexual community in our mainstream culture. By censoring images falling under the "bisexual" hashtag, a lot of people think Twitter is inadvertently contributing to a systematic refusal to acknowledge bisexual people as legitimate members of the LGBTQ+ community and as members of society as a whole.
People are taking to Twitter to speak out about their outrage regarding this issue.
The irony of the block isn't lost on these users.
These users find the block as a clear form of bi erasure that needs to be stopped.
And "bisexual" isn't the only innocuous term reportedly blocked from being photo-searched on Twitter.
As seen in the above Tweet, Angus Johnston reports that "vagina," "clitoris," and "penis" have also been banned from Twitter's searches... which is extra weird considering the fact that he points out "vulva," "breast," and "nipple" seem to be A-OK to search for.
Because all of this information is coming from other people's accounts, I decided to put these reports to the test myself by searching #bisexual in the Twitter search bar, and then selecting photos.
Just as everyone claimed, nothing came up when I searched for "#bisexual."
However, "#gay" did garner some photo search results, as did "#lesbian."
And obviously, I put the block to the ultimate test by searching "#nipple." Just as Angus Johnson predicted, the search brought about plenty of NSFW images.
So... NSFW images are totally chill, but any photos having to do with being bisexual or about bisexuality aren't OK? Interesting. Very interesting.
Do you see the problem here, though? What about the conversation and content surrounding bisexuality makes it unsearchable? Unfortunately, though the search block was likely not intended, it doesn't send a warm message to a community of people already dealing with the erasure of their identity on a daily basis.
After the endless stream of people complaining about the obvious screw up here, Twitter Support released a statement explaining that they're aware of the issue and what they're doing on their end to fix it:
If you're having trouble loading the statement, the tweet from the @TwitterSupport account read:
We’ve identified an error with search results for certain terms. We apologize for this. We’re working quickly to resolve & will update soon.
I really genuinely hope that it was, in fact, just an error. But it's important to note that this error likely wouldn't have gotten the attention it deserved if someone hadn't noticed it and said something.
So if you ever notice something that doesn't look or feel right — for example, something contributing to the unnecessary erasure of a loving, accepting group of people, say something and get the conversation going.
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