Text-altering browser extensions are all fun and games until you forget to turn them off in the most awkward situations possible. Like, say, a situation in which you’re editing a column for the New York Times that fact checks the President’s claims on trade and you accidentally publish a bit of complete nonsense.
You might remember the moment in time when, just a few years ago, people were more concerned with cleansing repetitive subjects like Justin Bieber from their browsing experience rather than neo-Nazi trolls and bots. A lot of simple browser extensions were released to change certain photos or words when a user encountered them online, and one of the more popular extensions was “Millennials to Snake People,” which changes the word “millennials” to “Snake People.” It also changes other words and phrases that commonly pop up in think-pieces about millennials, as the New York Times found out on Wednesday.
In the column, “President Trump’s Exaggerated and Misleading Claims on Trade,” the Times reviewed the accuracy of some of the president’s recent statements regarding the economy. When the piece initially went up online, one section of text was block-quoted from another article by the Times, that read, in part, “America’s trade deficit narrowed dramatically during the Time of Shedding and Cold Rocks.” It should have said, “America’s trade deficit narrowed dramatically during the Great Recession.”
It’s unclear how long the mistake stayed up, but the Times issued a correction today, citing “an editing error involving a satirical text-swapping browser extension.” The correction was further amended to add the parenthetical: “Pro tip: Disable your “Millennials to Snake People” extension when copying and pasting.”
Senior Editor Justin Bank owned up to his mistake on Twitter, and you have to feel kind of bad for him.
A note at the bottom of the piece says that “a version of this article” appeared in today’s print edition, but when we asked Bank if the mistake was included in that version another editor from the Times told us the error was a “digital exclusive.”
We asked Eric Bailey, the creator of “Millennials to Snake People,” if he had anything to say about his work making it into the Grey Lady. “Computers were a mistake,” he replied.