Snakes alive! Reptiles disappear swiftly
WASHINGTON: Taylor Swift and the Case of the Disappearing Reptiles is not a Nancy Drew knock-off I would choose to read – but since the internet seems enthralled, let’s do a little bit of sleuthing.
In the aftermath of the Kimye/T-Swift Famous feud, you’ll recall, critics flooded Swift’s Instagram with emoji snakes.
Within a week, the snakes had all inexplicably disappeared, and some mysterious force field seemed to prevent new infestations on Swift’s page.
Outrage was imminent: Clearly Instagram was complicit in this, critics said. Swift had gotten some sort of special treatment.
She’d been endowed censorship powers by the despots at Instagram.
Several stories published over the weekend even claimed that Instagram had developed some sort of “secret weapon” just for Swift.
The site gave her a “unique ‘tool’” to help her “shape” her image. It sounds exciting – even malicious! – until you realise the far more mundane truth: The all-powerful apparatus described in these stories works quite a lot like . . . Insta- gram’s new comment filter. To be clear, we don’t know for sure whether that filter explains the missing snakes, or whether it explains them entirely.
Instagram has not seen fit to comment on the circumstances surrounding their disappearance. But the clues point to an automated moderation filter, and Instagram happens to have just soft-launched exactly such a feature.
It is not, for the record, “secret” or “unique”, and it doesn’t work much like a weapon.
On July 6, a reporter for the site TechCrunch noticed a new, unannounced option in the settings for Instagram business accounts – in other words, accounts linked to a page on Facebook.
The option, when switched on, would “block comments with words or phrases often reported as offensive from appearing on your posts”. – Washington Post