X/Twitter Restores Taylor Swift Searches Following Deepfake Debacle

Taylor Swift searches on X/Twitter return
  • Save

Photo Credit: Ronald Woan / CC by 2.0

The social media platform formerly known as Twitter has restored searches for Taylor Swift after temporarily blocking results while pornographic deepfakes of the superstar circulated online.

Searches related to Taylor Swift were blocked on Elon Musk’s social media platform X, formerly Twitter, after AI-generated deepfake pornographic images of the singer began circulating online. Now the platform has restored searches for the superstar as X vows to continue combating the illicit content.

“Search has been re-enabled and we will continue to be vigilant for any attempt to spread this content and will remove it if we find it,” said Joe Benarroch, Head of Business Operations at X, who had previously announced that the company had taken temporary action to stop the searches, “done with an abundance of caution.”

On Monday, searches for the singer’s name resulted in an error message and a prompt for users to try again; still, users were able to bypass this by putting quotations around Swift’s name.

The explicit fake images began to circulate on social media last week, but it was particularly egregious on the former Twitter. Content moderation has largely been reduced to an automated reporting system since shortly after Musk’s rule began.

Taylor Swift’s devoted fanbase was quick to mobilize and try to thwart the flood of searches involving the fake images by posting positive images of the singer with the hashtag #ProtectTaylorSwift. Many reported the accounts sharing the deepfakes, which undoubtedly led to X taking further action.

But the targeting of a beloved pop figure has garnered response from the White House, and the reignited interest of a bill, the bipartisan “Preventing Deepfakes of Intimate Images Act,” that would address the spread of illicit content legal penalization. That legislation was introduced by Rep. Joe Morelle (D-NY) last year and is currently referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

“We’re certainly hopeful the Taylor Swift news will help spark momentum and grow support for our bill,” said a spokesperson for Morelle. “[The bill] would address her exact situation with both criminal and civil penalties.”