The debate of free speech on Twitter was rekindled last Thursday when the popular social media network apparently reneged on its commitment to allow The Daily Wire’s documentary “What is a Woman?” to air for free for 24 hours.
What is a Woman? is a documentary that features political commentator Matt Walsh, who explores the changing concepts of sex and gender in the digital age, particularly the transgender rights movement, anti-transgender bigotry and what it means to be a woman.
On May 18, Twitter owner Elon Musk posted that verified accounts would be permitted to upload 2-hour videos, with some speculating that Musk’s announcement was posted ahead of streaming agreements to be issued at a later date.
At the end of May, The Daily Wire announced that it would be streaming its documentary on Twitter for a 24-hour period.
However, this past Thursday, The Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boreing posted a thread to Twitter saying the social media giant canceled its deal.
“Twitter canceled a deal with @realdailywire to premiere What is a Woman? for free on the platform because of two instances of ‘misgendering.’ I’m not kidding,” Boreing posted.
According to Boreing, Twitter contacted him to say they were limiting the sharing of the post containing the movie, and they would label it as “hateful conduct.”
In fact, when The Daily Wire posted the film online, it was tagged by Twitter with a warning label “hateful conduct” and Twitter actively worked to limit sharing of the original tweet.
Boreing then shared his tweet thread, accusing Twitter of canceling the agreement.
After several hours without response from the Twitter owner, Musk wrote in a tweet that it was “a mistake.”
“This was a mistake by many people at Twitter. It is definitely allowed,” Musk posted.
On Friday, Musk shared the documentary himself in a post, stating: “Every parent should watch this.”
Musk further clarified that, while he believes consenting adults should be able to do whatever they want as long as “it does not harm others,” he said he supported the movie because minors are not able to consent.
That same day, Twitter account T(w)itter Daily News posted an announcement that Twitter’s Vice President of Trust and Safety, Ella Irwin, was leaving the company.
Neither Irwin nor Twitter have confirmed whether or not the senior-level executive’s departure was related to issues surrounding the documentary.
While Musk promised the film would be permitted for viewing, there continued to be issues related to accessing the content, even after Musk said the issue had been settled. One user posted a screenshot showing that Twitter was suppressing the sharing of the link, even one posted by Musk himself.
Every parent should watch this https://t.co/pIp6UP6vq8— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 2, 2023
By Friday evening, The Daily Wire post on Twitter was actively working and users were able to access, view and forward the documentary.
In less than one week, the documentary has earned over 170 million views on The Daily Wire's Twitter account.
The incident, however, raises questions about who moderates free speech on the social media network’s platform.
While Musk claims he purchased Twitter in order to preserve free speech, this recent incident indicates that the ongoing controversy and debates surrounding the meaning of ‘free speech’ and ‘tolerance’ are more important than ever.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.