X pauses some Taylor Swift searches as deepfake explicit images spread

  • Comments
  • Print
Taylor Swift performs onstage during the opening night of “The Eras Tour” in Glendale, Arizona. "Taylor Swift: The Conference Era" takes place in Bloomington Nov. 3 and 4 with adjacent events occurring Nov. 2 and 5. (Photo/Kevin Winter, Getty Images for TAS Rights Management)

Elon Musk’s social media platform X has blocked some searches for Taylor Swift as pornographic deepfake images of the singer have circulated online.

Attempts to search for her name without quote marks on the site Monday resulted in an error message and a prompt for users to retry their search, which added, “Don’t fret — it’s not your fault.”

However, putting quote marks around her name allowed posts to appear that mentioned her name.

Sexually explicit and abusive fake images of Swift began circulating widely last week on X, making her the most famous victim of a scourge that tech platforms and anti-abuse groups have struggled to fix.

“This is a temporary action and done with an abundance of caution as we prioritize safety on this issue,” Joe Benarroch, head of business operations at X, said in a statement.

After the images began spreading online, the singer’s devoted fanbase of “Swifties” quickly mobilized, launching a counteroffensive on X and a #ProtectTaylorSwift hashtag to flood it with more positive images of the pop star. Some said they were reporting accounts that were sharing the deepfakes.

The deepfake-detecting group Reality Defender said it tracked a deluge of nonconsensual pornographic material depicting Swift, particularly on X, formerly known as Twitter. Some images also made their way to Meta-owned Facebook and other social media platforms.

The researchers found at least a couple dozen unique AI-generated images. The most widely shared were football-related, showing a painted or bloodied Swift that objectified her and in some cases inflicted violent harm on her deepfake persona.

Researchers have said the number of explicit deepfakes have grown in the past few years, as the technology used to produce such images has become more accessible and easier to use.

In 2019, a report released by the AI firm DeepTrace Labs showed these images were overwhelmingly weaponized against women. Most of the victims, it said, were Hollywood actors and South Korean K-pop singers.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

One thought on “X pauses some Taylor Swift searches as deepfake explicit images spread

  1. It’s a good thing the current DOJ is concentrating such energy and effort on combating AI-generated deepfakes to help protect the modesty of the current administration’s biggest celebrity campaigner. For a minute there, I was worried that the Democrats might start reverting back to the sort of kitchen-sink issues that they, the Party of the Working Class, have long seen as their focus. But we wouldn’t want them to get too caught up in the needs of those filthy peasants.

    I’m glad they’re concentrating resources on issues that matter to the overwhelmingly majority of Americans, and are there to lend a helping hand to those who otherwise lack the money and resources to fight revenge porn. And when I think of financially strapped celebutantes, Taylor Swift is absolutely the first who comes to mind.

    Dolly Parton–the musician, the actress, the humanitarian, the woman herself–just starts seeming more appealing all the time. Yes, I’m outing my Boomer credentials.

Get the best of Indiana business news. ONLY $1/week Subscribe Now

Get the best of Indiana business news. ONLY $1/week Subscribe Now

Get the best of Indiana business news. ONLY $1/week Subscribe Now

Get the best of Indiana business news. ONLY $1/week Subscribe Now

Get the best of Indiana business news.

Limited-time introductory offer for new subscribers

ONLY $1/week

Cancel anytime

Subscribe Now

Already a paid subscriber? Log In

Get the best of Indiana business news.

Limited-time introductory offer for new subscribers

ONLY $1/week

Cancel anytime

Subscribe Now

Already a paid subscriber? Log In

Get the best of Indiana business news.

Limited-time introductory offer for new subscribers

ONLY $1/week

Cancel anytime

Subscribe Now

Already a paid subscriber? Log In

Get the best of Indiana business news.

Limited-time introductory offer for new subscribers

ONLY $1/week

Cancel anytime

Subscribe Now

Already a paid subscriber? Log In