We reported earlier on the fact that Wordpress shut down several feminist blogs without warning, where one of the most interesting aspects of this was that the actual terms of service were changed right before these bans, but the Wordpress users were not alerted to these changes, and did not get a request to accept these new terms. The blog owners had to retain lawyers in order to get their data back from Wordpress.org
What these blogs had in common was one thing, they had written about the case of Jonathan/Jessica Yaniv. This was around November 20, 2018. While other feminist blogs noted their absence, their abrupt deletion made few waves in mainstream media.
Not so for Meghan Murphy who was also banned, but from Twitter, thanks to Jessica Yaniv in November 23 2018. From reports in The Telegraph to think pieces by Julie Bindel, her sudden Twitter ban made waves. As Wapo reports:
Twitter’s reason for pulling her from the platform had been an earlier November tweet, in which Murphy wrote “him” in reference to a blogger identifying as a woman. Twitter argued it violated its Hateful Conduct Policy, which includes misgendering.
And Meghan lawyered up, just like the women who were kicked off Wordpress, but Meghan filed a suit. In December, a William Ray who wrote an article chronicling what was happening posted a Medium article "The Tranish Inquisition clearly shows the Orwellian nature of our electronic Agora". Two hours later, the Medium article was gone and William Ray was also suspended from Twitter.
What could have made these very large social media and tech companies so quick to change their terms of service, and ban people for suddenly breaking the new terms by stating "men aren't women"?
The above person did. Jessica / Jonathan Yaniv has, as per their username "trustednerd" quite a few connections in the tech industry, all the while the Canadian laws like C-16 end up harming women, just as Meghan Murphy predicted when she testified against it in 2017. By bringing discrimination complaints to the British Columbia Human Rights tribunal, and asking the judge to put a ban on publishing Yaniv's name for fear of reprisals if outed as a trans woman. Jonathan Yaniv managed to convince at least three tech companies to ban users who mentioned his name, and influence the same three companies to change their terms of service.
Now, soon after Lindsey Shepard was banned from Twitter for naming Yaniv, the BC human rights tribunal has lifted the publication ban. Ricky Gervais and Graham Linehan are suddenly "deadnaming" Yaniv on Twitter without repercussions, as Meghan Murphy writes for the Spectator how "the Yaniv scandal is the end-product of trans activism".
What, pray tell, does all of this have to do with advertising, you ask?
Advertising has, the trend sensitive business that it is, eagerly jumped on the trans train to include trans women and men in advertising. From the Dove "real Mothers" campaign, which received backlash and sparked a boycott, to creating new products like Mastercards "True name". Transgender models have worked for L’Oréal, selling makeup, to Secret women's deodorant and Satinelle as well as ..... menstrual pads.
See the transgender tag for more articles.
Modern feminine hygiene products, like Thinx underwear, use inclusive language like "menstruators" or worse "bleeders". ACLU and award-winning director Richard Linklater promote voting for "bathroom bills", while Gavin McInnes got fired from his own ad agency for writing a satirical article derogatory to transgender people. For extra bonus points, I caught some flack for allowing that piece to be published here.
Even everyone's comedian darling Sarah Silverman managed to misstep in the transgender minefield when she tried to make a funny ad about Equal Pay. Read that again but slowly, an equal pay for women ad offended transgender women.
I've long said that media changes the world, and we as people in advertising actually have a responsibility to the world with what we put out. And where. When we all began using platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube because "that's where the audience is", we also allowed for the ginormous growth of publication platforms that have absolutely no editorial responsibility, and now has the power to shut out anyone for saying the wrong thing at the drop of a new sentence in their terms of service. We gave them that power. We all moved to a more centralized web, owned by a few large Big Tech companies, which is the exact opposite of how the web should work.
We've put all the eggs in one basket, and Google can yank our ad funding away because we reported on these PETA ads, while Twitter can ban anyone that causes waves from Milo Yiannopoulos to Meghan Murphy. You may not agree with either of them, but if the few platforms we now have won't allow legal speech, why should advertising support these platforms? We spent years pushing for better targeting and filtering, to avoid advertising on ISIS propaganda or child abuse channels, but it wasn't until advertisers walked away en masse that Google tried to clean house in their own properties like Youtube. In an era where the population becomes more polarized due largely to our current media landscape, advertisers may want to consider how it supports this, and if they should.