X/Twitter has blocked searches for “Taylor Swift” this weekend in response to the rash of explicit AI-generated images of the singer that have drawn condemnation from Swifties, SAG-AFTRA, and the Biden White House.
Starting Saturday — and as of press time Sunday — typing “Taylor Swift” in X’s search bar results in an error message that reads “Something went wrong. Try reloading.” The response, X admitted Saturday, is intentional.
“This is a temporary action and done with an abundance of caution as we prioritize safety on this issue,” X head of business operations Joe Benarroch said in a statement (via Variety).
However, searching “Taylor Swift” in addition to one other word — like “Taylor Swift Chiefs,” or the trouble-causing “Taylor AI Swift” — still generates actual tweets in the results.
On Friday, the actors union criticized the “upsetting, harmful, and deeply concerning” images that propagated on X earlier in the week. “The development and dissemination of fake images — especially those of a lewd nature — without someone’s consent must be made illegal,” SAG-AFTRA’s statement said, while also calling support to Congressman Joe Morelle’s Preventing Deepfakes of Intimate Images Act to combat the practice.
“As a society, we have it in our power to control these technologies, but we must act now before it is too late. We support Taylor, and women everywhere who are the victims of this kind of theft of their privacy and right to autonomy.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the images “alarming” at a press conference Friday, and asked social media companies to more strongly enforce content moderation policies and further said Congress should take action to pass protective legislation.
“We are alarmed by the reports of the circulation of images that you laid out, false images to be more exact,” Jean-Pierre said. “While social media companies make their own independent decisions about content management, we believe they have an important role to play in enforcing their own rules to prevent the spreading of misinformation. Of course Congress should take legislative action. That’s how you deal with some of these issues.”
It’s unclear when X would make Taylor Swift searchable again.