A seemingly random combination of words “oxygen” and “frequency” has triggered Twitter to automatically flag tweets with a Covid-19 fact-check warning. Users responded by gaming the algorithm into absurdity.
The strange message began appearing under tweets on Friday. Within hours, people were testing it with random posts that mentioned the trigger words but weren’t related to the coronavirus in the least.
“Post anything random about oxygen and frequency and Twitter slaps a weird editorial note on your post,” journalist Tim Pool tweeted, along with perfectly reasonable sentence about scuba diving. Sure enough, it got flagged.
Others were quick to jump into the game, posting about things like Hillary Clinton not campaigning in Wisconsin in 2016, or Jeffrey Epstein allegedly committing suicide. Both got flagged, of course.
Musings about Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden not being on the same “frequency” as the rest of the US and using up valuable oxygen? Flagged.
Even absurdist poetry with the oxygen/frequency words in it triggered Twitter.
Get the facts, Siraj. pic.twitter.com/vlcYfWcSbV
Apparently, the combination of “oxygen” and “5G” also caused the flag to appear.
Bro they hit you with the Trumpito disclaimer lmaooooo pic.twitter.com/qa7ISnedjx
However, as others pointed out, using phrases like “Covid isn’t real” or “Coronavirus is caused by 5G” was just fine for the engine. For now, anyway.
Back in March, Twitter announced it would be slapping warning labels on “misleading” posts or those containing claims “disputed” by public health experts. In early June, the labeling was extended to 5G, citing the need to debunk conspiracy theories linking the mobile technology to the coronavirus. Though that doesn’t seem to be consistently enforced, either. Where “oxygen” or “frequency” fit into any of this, the company has not said.
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