At 2:31 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, September 10, the Twitter account for Toshiba U.K., the British division of the Japanese electronics company, tweeted out the following message: “Trannies are weird!”
Considering that Toshiba U.K. normally tweets out updates about their products and cybersecurity, a tweet with a transphobic slur seemed completely out of character.
One Twitter user named Alan Wilkinson replied to the comment with “We beg your pardon?” and later wrote, “Yeah, not the sort of thing you expect from an official account.”
Toshiba U.K. reportedly removed the tweet soon after it was published and issued the following statement to the press:
“Based on our investigation, we have determined that our Twitter account was hacked on 10 September. We have taken swift action to secure it, and we apologize that this offensive Tweet was sent through our official Toshiba U.K. account.”
Is the Toshiba corporation transphobic?
While the Toshiba U.K. Twitter account was most liely hacked, a closer look at the company’s history show an openness to LGBTQ identities. In 2016, the company began providing trainings on “LGBT and maternity harassment … to improve the skills of consulting service staff.”
On the company’s human rights page, they write, “We will respect the rights of all people associated with our company, such as our employees, customers, and stakeholders.”
However, in 2013 Toshiba released a Canadian advertisement that many found homophobic. Ad Week describes the 30-second video:
The [ad] spot, “Math Notes,” showcases the Excite Write tablet’s ability to convert handwritten notes and sketches into sharable files. A guy asks his roommate for calculus notes, and looks extremely dismayed, almost repulsed, when he instead receives a drawing of himself reimagined by his roommate as a hunky centaur.
“Oops, wrong document,” the sender says, as his roommate looks visibly uncomfortable.
The ad depended on the “homo-queasy” cliché of making a “gross-out” punchline out of same-sex attraction. Several publications criticized the ad for doing so.
In response, Sherry Lyons, then-Vice President of Corporate and Marketing Communications at Toshiba of Canada, said, “Toshiba would never intentionally set out to offend our customers. We do not feel that the ‘Math Notes’ video is offensive or cliché.”
Featured image by drbimages via iStock