Snakes alive! Rep­tiles dis­ap­pear swiftly

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

CAITLIN DEWEY

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

Tay­lor Swift

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