Is this what he meant by “America First”?
On Saturday, Twitter users noticed that when searching the word “racist,” President Donald Trump’s account shows up first among the results. You get the same outcome if you search “racism” too, though, sadly, other terms that have become synonymous with America’s commander-in-chief such as “white supremacist,” “orange,” or “Oompa Loompa” bore no such results.
The timing of this discovery feels incredibly apropos given his disparaging comments and threats against people protesting the death of 46-year-old George Floyd, a black man killed by a white police officer in Minnesota last month. While most of the country already considered Trump a white supremacist (per a 2019 INSIDER poll), his hostile reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement in recent weeks has brought his bigotry into stark relief.
“The top result for racist on Twitter is the president of the United States,” tweeted Tom Warren, a senior editor at the Verge and one of the first to call attention to the fact that Twitter’s algorithm has boldly declared what many mealy-mouthed news outlets and conservative supporters have tip-toed around.
A Twitter spokesperson later clarified that, no, this is not a “gotcha” moment for the conspiracy theorists that rave about social media networks and their supposed anti-conservative bias. The platform’s algorithm is triggered by user behaviour, so the only person Trump has to blame for his name topping Twitter’s racism search charts is, well, Trump himself.
“If an account is mentioned often alongside certain terms, it can become algorithmically surfaced together as a recommendation,” the spokesperson told Business Insider.
Clearly the algorithm must be wrong, however, as the president has previously declared himself “the least racist person in the world.”
While Trump hasn’t yet commented on the discovery, I don’t suppose he’ll be too happy about it. Though he continues to use Twitter as his de facto presidential pulpit, the company’s finally begun pushing back against his misleading and contentious statements by labeling tweets that are “glorifying violence” or spouting factual inaccuracies.
In retaliation, Trump issued an executive order last month aimed at limiting the power of Twitter and other social media networks. Legal experts from across the aisle have warned that the proposal, which threatens the First Amendment rights of these private companies, is almost certainly unconstitutional.
Featured image: Saul Loeb (Getty Images)