Los Angeles DA’s office quits Twitter amid flood of anti-LGBTQ+ comments

Tribune Content Agency

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said this week it would no longer post to Twitter after website moderators ignored requests to delete a torrent of bigoted and hateful comments left under a post about employees attending the West Hollywood Pride parade.

The office’s account tweeted a picture of about two dozen employees holding gay pride flags after they marched in the annual parade Sunday. Both Joseph Iniguez, George Gascón’s chief of staff who is gay, and director of communications Tiffiny Blacknell, were shown in the image.

Among the 90 replies to the tweet were those calling the employees photographed “pedophiles” or “groomers,” as well as grotesque images of deformed male genitalia and, in one case, a swastika.

Blacknell said the office reported a number of the hateful comments to Twitter but received no response.

“The Pride Parade post was met with a barrage of vicious and offensive comments that left us deeply troubled. The comments ranged from homophobic and transphobic slurs to sexually explicit and graphic images, and even after reporting them to Twitter, they remained visible on our account for more than 24 hours,” she said in a statement to The Times. “The district attorney’s office will not be complicit and utilize a platform that promotes such hateful rhetoric.”

The office will maintain a presence on Instagram and TikTok, according to Blacknell.

The incident is among a cross-section of recent controversies. Pride-related events have faced violent and extreme backlash throughout the country this month, including viral videos of men filming themselves destroying pro-LGBTQ+ displays at Target stores as well as recent brawls outside a North Hollywood school and a Glendale school board meeting.

Although some of the local backlash has been framed around the idea of keeping teachings about sex and gender identity out of the classroom, heated rhetoric has also crossed over into outright bigotry, with some people at the events conflating gay and transgender lifestyles with pedophilia. Members of the extreme right-wing Proud Boys organization — which played a key role in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection — were also spotted at the Glendale protest.

Concerns about Twitter becoming a hotbed for bigoted rhetoric and disinformation have been among a river of concerns that began flowing after Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk purchased the platform last year. Musk’s reign has been marked by embarrassments including the bungled rollout of a paid verification program and the botched launch of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ bid for the Republican presidential nomination, which repeatedly crashed.

One of the site’s top executives quit earlier this month over the website’s handling of transgender topics.

In response to a question from The Times, Twitter’s media account automatically generated a poop emoji, which is an official policy that Musk himself announced in March.

A number of celebrities have quit Twitter since Musk took over, including Hall of Fame professional wrestler Mick Foley and actress Whoopi Goldberg.