Over the weekend, Twitter users started to notice that when they searched the words “bisexual” or “bisexuality,” relevant photos and news were blocked from their feeds.
Many commentators branded the site biphobic due to this blatant erasure. According to the Human Rights Campaign Twitter account, the site also had the search term “gay” blocked, but this has since been cleared up.
Bisexuality is a topic that is often erased from the media’s narrative. In television series, such as Orange is the New Black, characters are referred to as “ex-lesbian” or “not-into-labels.”
Another example is Lily Aldrin, from the popular show “How I Met Your Mother.” Lily is repeatedly shown as wanting to be in relationships with women, even while in a committed relationship with a man. Yet she refers to this as “a lesbian experience.”
In this way, television also refuses to use the word bisexual.
Some people, gay and straight, claim that bisexual people are “eventually going to pick a side.” However, sexuality is not about picking teams; this isn’t high school dodgeball.
“What I really want to know is how this problem even occurred,” said Christo Antonille, a junior digital television media production major, “This has happened earlier this year with YouTube and other social media sites. This problem could have easily been avoided. ‘Gay’ I can kind of understand as some often use it as a slur. But bisexual? I personally can’t think of context that would require it to be censored.”
Author Lauren Ingram drew attention to the issue by tweeting at the Twitter Support account, “Please also explain why all the ‘related searches’ on the bisexual hashtag are porn terms.”
Please also explain why all the “related searches” on the bisexual hashtag are porn terms https://t.co/X55bfP0j78
— Lauren Ingram ? (@laureningram) November 6, 2017
This suggestion may be due to the new Twitter Rules that prohibit adult content. Twitter defines “adult content” as, “any media that is pornographic and/or may be intended to cause sexual arousal.”
However, this perpetuates the stereotype that bisexual people are inherently more sexual than straight or gay people. The concept of any sexual content that doesn’t focus on cisgender heterosexuality has frequently been branded as “Not Safe For Work” (NSFW), not only on social media but in the censorship of television scenes that feature queer couples.
“We’ve identified an error with search results for certain terms,” Twitter wrote in a released statement, “We apologize for this. We’re working quickly to resolve & will update soon.”
We’ve identified an error with search results for certain terms. We apologize for this. We’re working quickly to resolve & will update soon.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) November 5, 2017
Although the issue became apparent late Saturday evening, the issue was not resolved until Tuesday.