by Matt Taibbi, Racket News:
Matt Walsh’s “What is a Woman?” is the kind of content most thought would be safe under new Twitter ownership. A new battle over the film feels like an attack of nanny-Twitter déjà vu
At roughly 8:30 a.m. ET this morning, Jeremy Boreing, co-founder and co-CEO of the Daily Wire, posted a lengthy thread on Twitter outlining what appeared to be a major reversal on speech issues on the Elon Musk-owned platform. “Twitter canceled a deal with @realdailywire to premiere What is a Woman? for free on the platform because of two instances of ‘misgendering,’” Boreing wrote, adding, “I’m not kidding.”
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Noting the film would be labeled “hateful conduct,” the thread detailed a months-longer roller-coaster dispute between the producers of What is a Woman?, a controversial documentary by Matt Walsh released a year ago today, and the current incarnation of the bird site.
In celebration of the release anniversary Walsh, Boreing, and the Daily Wire began making plans to partner with Twitter for a 24-hour livestream today, June 1, 2023. Twitter at first responded with enthusiasm, offering the chance to buy “a package to host the movie on a dedicated event page” and “a chance for us to promote the event to every Twitter user over the first 10 hours.” The initial exchange came roughly a month ago, and the Wire team planned a significant ad buy and other promotions.
Weeks later, Twitter ominously asked the Daily Wire for a review copy of Walsh’s movie. Boreing said the firm then found out Twitter would not only “no longer provide us with support,” but bluntly told them they would “limit the reach” of the film if the Daily Wire went ahead with the event on its own. In one of many odd twists to this story, the problem involved two alleged instances of “misgendering,” a category of offense Twitter controversially removed from hate speech guidelines in April.
“They gave us the opportunity to edit the film to comply. We declined,” wrote Boreing.
Boreing’s tweet-storm today provoked a quick backlash on the platform, with personalities like Tim Pool promising to terminate his “enterprise Blue subscription” if the decision wasn’t reversed. As if by magic, Musk at 1:33 p.m. tweeted that it was a “mistake by many people at Twitter”:
However, as of this moment (at 2:27 p.m., an hour after Elon’s tweet), the movie is still labeled “limited,” because it “may violate Twitter’s rules against hateful conduct:
No matter how this mess turns out, it’s a significant development, in large part because What is a Woman? — a sarcastic doc that gently tinkles in the face of transgender orthodoxies — is just the kind of content many conservatives in particular imagined would no longer arouse the ire of censors.
Walsh himself last year celebrated Musk’s “liberation of Twitter,” a fact the Washington Post considered significant enough to report at the time (though it followed the now-common habit of not linking to Walsh’s Twitter account or to Daily Wire content about the film). If new Twitter continues to label and suppresses this movie, it will send a clear message to conservatives that the honeymoon is over. At the very least, it’s time to pack.
Even if the matter is ultimately fixed, it’s important to note that The Daily Wire was alredy forced to cancel a major promotion, and has been negotiating with Twitter for some time before today. “This was not some kind of fluke or glitch,” Walsh wrote. “It’s a very intentional decision by Twitter.” In fact, as Moreing notes, the decision was presented to The Daily Wire as a conscious expression of Twitter’s “speech not reach” policy, another way of saying Twitter considers de-amplification or suppression legitimate tools, not free speech violations.