Terms of Service: Reading the fine print or just clicking in consent
Do you always read the fine print in the Terms of Service? I confess that I have, on occasion, agreed to Terms of Service that I have, in fact, not read. Have you read the Terms of Service for the social media platform upon which you are now reading this post? If not, the time may well have arrived to do so. In what other area of our lives do we give up so much personal information and security for convenience and perceived influence?
Convicted recently when someone I respect closed all their social media accounts as a witness to their kids that a person actually could cultivate an identity in the world free from a contrived, filtered FOMO digital existence, I began seriously considering why I’m on social media and to what end. As part of my consideration, I started reading more of the fine print. And, when I received a notification that Twitter was updating its terms of service, I did not instinctively click “agree.” Instead, I read them.
Twitter updated its Hateful Conduct Policy. The entire page is worthy of reading so that we can get a sense of things that people now need to be told about how to relate to other people. I highlighted several things that I suspect Twitter will need to further clarify as the cultural conversation continues to devolve.
Let’s look here at the restriction against “Repeated and/or non-consensual slurs, epithets, racist and sexist tropes, or other content that degrades someone.” Need clarification? Twitter offers this: “We prohibit targeting individuals with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category. This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.”
Dehumanization suggests we all share a common understanding of what it means to be human. That’s a great worldview conversation. But it’s the last sentence that leapt off the page when I considered the implications. If you refer to an individual with pronouns associated with his or her genetically biological gender but that individual identifies with some other gender, you will be guilty of “misgendering.” What differentiates that from “targeted misgendering?” Therein lies the discretion of Twitter to determine your motivation and ban you based on their sole discretionary judgement.
What then is “deadnaming?” If you persist in referring to a person by their given name instead of the name by which they have determined they shall now be called, you are deadnaming. Ignorance is no longer an excuse and, again, your motivation is the key here. And the scope of harm is limited by the terms to the one who perceives harm, but what of the harm done to the truth by requiring the entire society to suspend reality to participate in a collective delusion?
And lest you think that only social conservatives or Christian cultural commentators are being banned, think again. Feminists who point out that men are not women are being banned. Case in point: Meghan Murphy. I first read about her case in The Federalist and Brandon Showalter interviews Murphy here for The Christian Post.
But, wait a minute (your rational mind protests) – it remains true that men and women are different. You’re right and Twitter knows it. In their very own Rationale for the updated Terms of Service in the Hateful Conduct Policy, they admit they know that men and women are different. I quote, “Research has shown that some groups of people are disproportionately targeted with abuse online. This includes; women,…”
But point that out and you risk being banned if an individual who does not now identify with their biological sex perceives themselves to be harmed by you’re observation of scientific reality, quoting of some text which informs your sincerely held religious belief, or some other speech Twitter now deems beyond the bounds of the ever shifting transgender/genderfluid/queer political correctness landscape.
The first question I was asked when I recently applied for health insurance was about age. The second question was about gender. Under penalty of law, I cannot lie about either one of those fixed realities. This information was verified using my social security number which is, notably, attached to a particular name. The name I give needs to match the social security number which also needs to match my actual date of birth and sex, no matter how relatively young or old, masculine or feminine I may feel at the time. Why? Because the government knows those realities matter. Twitter knows it too.
If you follow me on social media, listen to my radio show, or read what I write, you know I affirm the dignity of every human being. I stand against bullying and harm threatened or done to anyone, including those who identify as LGBTQ+. But I am not willing to sacrifice the truth nor have my own conscience bent toward a social agenda.
It seems we have arrived in Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland and it is anything but wonderful for those who recognize the value of shared definitions wherein truth aligns with reality. The confusion inflamed by undermining the reality that those with XY chromosomes are boys and that boys become men and the complimentary reality that those with XX chromosomes are girls and that girls become women leads to the wildfires of relational and familial confusion in which we find ourselves as a culture. Perception does not trump reality even if a culture’s collective delusion says it’s so. I simply point out that The Emperor Has No Clothes even if a parade heralds it to be so.
As Ryan Anderson pointed out, even the New York Times is revealing painful truths about transgender lives, so why are we so committed to avoiding the truth? Again, I fully understand that there some individuals whose biology does not conform to the XY/XX norms but for Twitter – or any other platform for that matter – to forbid the public acknowledgement of the truth about reality should give us all pause as we agree to their Terms and consent with our clicks.