Taylor Swift Chaos on X Leads to Even More Chaos on X

Faked images lead to a broken search functionality

Taylor Swift on many screens
Swift performs onstage during " Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour" at Estadio Más Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti.
Marcelo Endelli/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

If you’ve been a regular user of X since its days as Twitter, you might have noticed some changes since Elon Musk purchased the company and laid off a significant number of its employees. Earlier this month, PCMag reported that X users were seeing an increased number of ads for crypto scams — and late last year, the company disabled a method by which users could point out disinformation on the site. All of which is to say that it’s a lot easier to see dodgy content on X these days — and that reporting it as such can also bring headaches.

What happens when that collides with one of the most popular musicians on the planet? As James Hibberd writes at The Hollywood Reporter, X appeared to have blocked searches for Swift’s name from functioning at all. As of this writing, when I tried to search for Swift’s name, I received an error message. And while that might sound bad, the reasons why suggest that the alternative is even worse.

What alternative, you might ask? As ABC News reported earlier in the week, X was abounding with fake explicit images of Swift. Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House Press Secretary, told ABC that the White House was “alarmed” by the images — and that they felt that it was time for Congress to take action.

To state the obvious: faking explicit images of someone — a celebrity or not — and distributing them across social media is gross and unethical. It’s not surprising to hear that X would take some action to stop this — though the fact that it did so by essentially breaking its own search functionality feels less than idea.

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In comments shared with The Hollywood Reporter, SAG-AFTRA also spoke out against the faked Swift photos. “The development and dissemination of fake images — especially those of a lewd nature — without someone’s consent must be made illegal,” the union said.

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