On Wednesday September 28, 2022, Twitter users logging in to the social media network saw an unusual topic trending across the platform.
Trending on Twitter
In the trending section was the N-Word all spelled out at the top of the Trends. Opening the thread on the subject revealed many Twitter users asking how is it possible that the word is trending? At the time of our screen grab there was no description listed for the trend, however, the word had 210,000 tweets.
How are Twitter Trends determined?
Trends are determined by an algorithm and, by default, are tailored for you based on who you follow, your interests, and your location. This algorithm identifies topics that are popular now, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis, to help you discover the hottest emerging topics of discussion on Twitter. (Twitter Help Section)
Did Twitter break its own rules?
Maybe. According to Twitter’s Help Center. “We want Trends to promote healthy conversations on Twitter. This means that at times, we may not allow or may temporarily prevent content from appearing in Trends until more context is available. This includes Trends that:
- Violates the Twitter Rules.
- Contains profanity or adult/graphic references.
- Targets the privacy of victims of serious crimes and of minors, who are private figures.
How Twitter handles explicit or offensive content
It might surprise you that Twitter does not necessarily consider swear words or what might be commonly viewed as a racial slur as offensive content. You can curse on Twitter and many do. Time reported that the f-bomb accounts for nearly 35% of all cursing on Twitter, followed by other expletives including the N-word.
The N-word originated as a variant of the infamous racial slur. Despite the word’s use in Rap music, Hip- hop and urban culture, the use of the N-word by a person who is not Black—in any context—is considered highly offensive.
People are allowed to post content, including potentially inflammatory content, as long as they’re not violating the Twitter Rules. It’s important to know that Twitter does not screen content or remove potentially offensive content. About offensive content-Twitter
Twitter has a warning message that tells users to rethink offensive replies, but it doesn’t have that same filter when you are Tweeting from your profile to your followers. Hence anyone can and apparently quite a few do use offensive language in their Tweets.
You can learn how to report and potentially block offensive content you are shown on Twitter by visiting the Help Center.