Searches for the words “asshole,” “dickhead,” or “racist” on Twitter have been returning results for US president Donald Trump’s profile.
By Thursday morning, however, all of those results had vanished from Twitter. But, when quizzed by, the Jack Dorsey-run firm declined to comment on whether it had scrubbed the results clean.
A similar search on Wednesday night via the Twitter app for the word “crooked” didn’t lead to Hillary Clinton being recommended to users, despite Trump trying to ridicule his presidential campaign rival by repeatedly describing Clinton as “crooked Hillary.”
But the word “corrupt”—another jibe heavily used by Trump last year—did return Hillary Clinton’s Twitter profile as a recommendation to users.
And a Twitter search for “tiny hands” is still returning a recommendation for Trump’s personal Twitter profile.
It’s likely that Twitter’s powerful search algorithm—rather than a rogue engineer—was responsible for serving the results, based on popular searches by users.
For example, many people appeared to have said that Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks was serving up “alternative truth”—a term similar to one recently coined by Trump’s campaign manager and senior aide Kellyanne Conway, who denied that bogus statements made by the president’s press secretary Sean Spicer were lies. He had wrongly claimed that record numbers of people had flocked to Trump’s inauguration. But Conway hit back by saying that he was presenting “alternative facts.”
Conway’s Orwellian “newspeak” also landed the novel 1984 on Amazon’s US bestseller list this week.
On Monday, Twitter apologised over an official US president account blunder that left some Barack Obama fans livid. Half a million Twitter users suddenly found themselves following the former reality TV star against their will, in the wake of the president’s inauguration.
Listing image by Gage Skidmore