The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ+ youth, is quitting social media site X, saying Thursday it is concerned about “increasing hate & vitriol on the platform targeting the LGBTQ community — the group we exist to serve.”
“If you’d like to keep up with our work supporting LGBTQ young people, we invite you to follow us on Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Facebook,” or on TrevorSpace.org, the group said in a statement about closing its account on the platform formerly known as Twitter. “No online space is perfect, but having access to sufficient moderation capabilities is essential to maintaining a safer space for our community.”
The move to leave X comes after months of concerns about hateful speech on the platform, as owner Elon Musk emphasizes his desire for what he calls “free speech” instead. Musk has also taken hits at digital online watchdog groups who criticized the company’s handling of hate speech and other troubling content, including suing the Center for Countering Digital Hate and threatening legal action against the Anti-Defamation League (the lawsuit against the ADL never materialized, and the group later resumed advertising on X).
X in April also rolled back a portion of its hateful conduct policy that included specific protections for transgender people, including removing a prohibition against “targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.”
Musk himself — whose daughter is transgender and said earlier this year that she wanted to cut ties with her father — has been criticized for some of his statements on X regarding gender identity issues.
For example, in December 2020 he made a post, since deleted, that said “when you put he/him in your bio” alongside a drawing of an 18th century soldier rubbing blood on his face in front of a pile of dead bodies and wearing a cap that read “I love to oppress.” (In response to criticism to that post, Musk wrote on the platform: “I absolutely support trans, but all these pronouns are an esthetic nightmare.”)
The Trevor Project also noted that its exit from X comes after hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ bills, a record number, have been introduced into statehouses across the United States in 2023. Fellow civil rights organization the Human Rights Campaign in June declared a “state of emergency” for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“We have seen this rhetoric transcend politics and appear on social media platforms,” a representative for the Trevor Project told CNN. “The content we share on social media is intended to uplift and affirm LGBTQ young people, shedding light on stories to deepen the public understanding of their experiences. In response to mental health resources and messages of hope and support, we’ve seen anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and commentary on our posts that can negatively impact LGBTQ young people.”
Indeed, many of the replies to the group’s recent posts on X are filled with dozens of angry and hateful comments, in some cases hidden behind a label that notes they may be offensive.
A year after Musk acquired the platform, X has been scrambling to stem the tide of users leaving the platform for alternatives in the wake of the billionaire’s controversial leadership style and policy changes. A number of new social platforms have cropped up over the past year, including Meta’s Threads, Mastodon, a new site backed by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey called Bluesky and a platform from former Twitter employees called Spill.
The company has also been attempting to convince many advertisers to resume or increase their spending on the platform despite concerns that ads could show up alongside hateful content or misinformation. X CEO Linda Yaccarino has touted the platform’s brand safety controls that are meant to allow advertisers to choose what kinds of content their ads can appear next to.
CNN has reached out to X about the Trevor Project deleting its account.