X bans Taylor Swift searches after AI controversy

San Francisco, California - Searches for Taylor Swift have been halted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, after the site was flooded with AI-generated explicit photos of the pop star.

X users cannot search for Taylor Swift amid the ongoing backlash over the spread of explicit AI-generated photos of the pop star.
X users cannot search for Taylor Swift amid the ongoing backlash over the spread of explicit AI-generated photos of the pop star.  © Collage: Screenshot/X & IMAGO / UPI Photo

On Saturday, fans took notice that searches for "Taylor Swift" on X were being met with an error message that read, "Something went wrong. Try reloading."

As of Sunday, such searches are continuing to yield the same results.

The move comes after sexually explicit images of the 34-year-old singer generated using AI went viral on the platform, sparking outrage and amplifying the alarming rise in deepfake pornography online.

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Since being taken over by Elon Musk in 2022, X has scaled back several safety and content moderation measures, making victims of such images far more vulnerable.

In a statement shared on the platform's Safety account, X reiterated its "zero-tolerance policy" towards "Non-Consensual Nudity."

"Our teams are actively removing all identified images and taking appropriate actions against the accounts responsible for posting them," the statement continued.

X confirmed on Saturday that the search restrictions were an intentional measure intended to halt the circulation of the images.

Why is Taylor Swift not searchable on X?

"This is a temporary action and done with an abundance of caution as we prioritize safety on this issue," X's Head of Business Operations, Joe Benarroch, said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal.

During a press briefing on Friday, the White House condemned the images of Swift and their rampant circulation on X, drawing further attention to the need for stronger content moderation on social media.

Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the situation "alarming" and noted that women are "the overwhelming targets of online harassment," against which there remains alarmingly little protection.

Cover photo: Collage: Screenshot/X & IMAGO / UPI Photo

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