Taylor Swift’s Name Blocked on X After Deepfake Controversy Sparks Outrage

LOS ANGELES – Social media users in Los Angeles, California were unable to search for Taylor Swift’s name on X over the weekend following the emergence of nonconsensual sexually explicit deepfakes of the pop star. When users attempted to search for Swift’s name on the platform, they were met with an error message stating, “Something went wrong. Try reloading”. The company behind X has not yet provided a comment on the situation.

The incident occurred after deepfake images depicting Swift in nude and sexual scenarios went viral on X. Deepfakes are created using artificial intelligence tools that generate fake images or manipulate real photos. While it remains unclear where these particular images originated from, they featured a watermark suggesting they came from a website known for publishing fake nude celebrity images. This website even has a dedicated section for “AI deepfakes”.

Within 19 hours, these photos had garnered more than 27 million views and over 260,000 likes before the account responsible for posting them was suspended. Concerned fans of Swift suspected that a mass-reporting campaign led to the removal of the deepfakes. In the past, X has faced criticism for its delayed response to sexually explicit deepfakes on its platform.

Blackbird.AI, a firm specializing in protecting organizations from narrative-driven online attacks using AI technology, analyzed the response from Swift’s fans. They found that supporters flooded the hashtag “Taylor Swift AI” with positive messages about the singer. Additionally, the hashtag “Protect Taylor Swift” gained traction on X.

While some users expressed relief that Swift’s name had been removed from X’s search function, others felt conflicted. One user expressed mixed emotions, stating, “You can’t search Taylor Swift on Twitter anymore – kinda happy and sad at the same time”. Another user condemned the creator of the AI-generated images and vowed support for Swift.

As the controversy surrounding these deepfakes unfolds, the impact on Swift’s reputation remains to be seen. However, this incident sheds light on the ongoing challenges social media platforms face in tackling the spread of harmful and nonconsensual content.