X restores searches for Swift after fake nudes prompted temporary halt

The social media platform X — formerly Twitter — has now restored searches on the site for Taylor Swift after they were temporarily halted this week to combat the spread of deepfake pornographic images of the pop star.

Searches of the singer’s name on the platform Tuesday popped up a list of Swift-related posts as it normally has. However, the same attempts a day earlier generated an error message asking users to retry their search. 

Putting quotation marks around her name Monday did allow some posts to appear, though not the lewd images that have stirred controversy.

The sexually explicit photos of Swift, which were reportedly generated using artificial intelligence, show her in various vulgar positions at what appears to be a Kansas City Chiefs game, a reference to her relationship with the team’s tight end Travis Kelce. 

After the photos started making their rounds on social media, some of the pop star’s fans joined an online campaign to “protect Taylor Swift.” They have been busy reporting the explicit content and posting actual pictures of the pop star in hopes of making the fake images more difficult to find.

Without naming Swift, X appeared to respond to the campaign to get the images taken down.   

“Posting Non-Consensual Nudity (NCN) images is strictly prohibited on X and we have a zero-tolerance policy towards such content,” a statement from the X Safety account said after the photos went viral. “Our teams are actively removing all identified images and taking appropriate actions against the accounts responsible for posting them. We’re closely monitoring the situation to ensure that any further violations are immediately addressed, and the content is removed.”

With the emergence of AI, and the technology now being widely accessible, this surely won’t be the last time that deepfakes like this are a cause of controversy.

From the fake Swift nudes to a comedy special impersonating the late George Carlin, even President Joe Biden has fallen victim to the capabilities of AI. And while Congress has said it is considering several new bills to address the technology, it raises questions as to whether the law can even keep up.