Twitter Is Making Its Twitter Presence Gayer

On Monday, a user on Twitter posted a now-deleted tweet that said “y’all ever forget that there’s actually straights on Twitter,” which is a pretty standard sentiment from the queer part of Twitter. But then something unusual happened — Twitter replied: “straights? on Twitter? never heard of those.”

This response went pretty viral with 60,000 likes and 30,000 retweets, which is definitely unusual for Twitter’s company account. Some (straight) people were genuinely offended by the remark, but the majority of responses seem to be in support of the conversational approach from the brand account.

For Twitter, this is a fairly recent thing. Although their replies have been more personable for a while, the tweets on the Twitter profile have been pretty business-oriented up until last week. Now they’re having a kiki with every other user: Tweets about Beyoncé, a gif with Troye Sivan sipping tea, or the gif of Kris Jenner’s “you’re doing amazing sweetie.”

Twitter is far from the first company to use internet slang, or even gay jokes specifically, in their social media accounts. Arby’s and Wendy’s are both known for their bizarre online personalities and Netflix Canada is famous on Twitter for it’s gay ass social media presence.

There’s something to be said about brands, in general, trying to act more conversational and casual with their consumers. Advertising is used to shape the image of a company, often trying to make brands appear cool, healthy, classy, new, etc.— but with internet audiences, it’s more about a type of linguistic proficiency. Liking brands un-ironically isn’t cool, but if a brand shows it has an applicable knowledge of the memes and slang of the internet, it looks like they’re in on the joke.

“I’m not like other brands, I’m a cool brand. Down with capitalism.”

But that’s kind of the problem isn’t it? They’re still corporations; they suck. In Twitter’s case, they’ve been heavily criticized for allowing white supremacists, conspiracy theorists and generally horrible people to have a platform regardless of the ways they directly or indirectly contribute to harassment of other users. Most recently there was an issue with Twitter refusing to ban the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and once they did, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey reportedly overruled the ban — not just for Jones, but also white supremacist Richard Spencer.

In addition, there have been multiple stories of trans folks being suspended from Twitter when they respond to harassment, while nothing happens to the harassers themselves. It took Twitter what seemed like forever to finally ban Milo Yiannopoulos after he incited harassment against Leslie Jones.

There’s a conflict here between content and context. Twitter’s social media presence can be as queer as it wants, but the policies of the site and the practices of its CEO don’t match the message.

This model for social media content could be viewed as a new form of corporate pinkwashing — the strategy of trying to appear LGBT-friendly in order to promote one’s business as modern or progressive. In this case, Twitter’s aim is to distance itself or distract users from its past mistakes as a brand. However, as with traditional pinkwashing, it’s important to not be distracted from the material actions of a company, because oftentimes, despite the rainbow flags and A Star is Born gifs, they don’t give a shit about us.


Ryan Khosravi

Ryan Khosravi is a culture writer based out of New York, and his thing in the world is beating unsuspecting straight men at Super Smash Bros.

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