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The White House Learned Four Internet Words and Wants to Teach You How to Say Them Wrong

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Image for article titled The White House Learned Four Internet Words and Wants to Teach You How to Say Them Wrong
Photo: Evan Vucci (AP Photos)

Today, President Trump hosted his big “social media summit,” which coincided almost perfectly with a worldwide Twitter outage. Notably, the White House invited exactly zero social media company representatives to the event, but plenty of online conspiracists and grifters to make up for their absence.

Clearly needing some suitable decorations for the far-right soirée, the White House printed out—on giant posters—four terms of particular importance to the administration’s odious internet friends: deplatforming, shadow banning, demonetization, and doxing.


And, by god, they got each and every one of them wrong.


Let’s start, as a middle school teacher might say, with the building blocks of language: parts of speech. Not one of these four terms is, as stated on the signs, a verb. One is a noun. The other three are gerunds, a kind of verbal noun. Gerunds are verbs turned into nouns by adding “ing” at the end. Adding “ing” at the end is what makes a word a gerund. Jesus Christ.

Observe, also, the almost pathological need within the included pronunciation guides to put the emphasis on the wrong syllable:



“shad•oh ban•ing

Say them out loud as they’re written. Do you suddenly feel like a cartoonish Italian chef or The Count from Sesame Street? Until today, no one on Earth has ever pronounced these words this way. “But some of those syllables are phonetic and others aren’t,” you plead. “There’s no consistency! And I’m pretty sure the letters ‘wrm’ have never occurred in that sequence before, suggesting a sound so unnatural that the average American mouth practically convulses while trying to say it!”

This is all true, but please stop interrupting—there’s so much more to get through.

Demonetization is not specific to political views. Deplatforming can happen on sites that aren’t social platforms (like domain registrars that don’t want to host neo-Nazis, for instance). No one in the world can or will ever be able to adequately explain the phrase “subjective hiding.”


Given the popularity of “platform bias” as a right-wing talking point, you’d think that someone at the White House would’ve spent more than eight seconds on these, or bothered to invite any conservatives who had actually been kicked off social media platforms. What’s nagging me most about these posters—which I feel dumber for having looked at, and angry to know I paid for in some small way—is who the fuck are these even for? The White House isn’t holding an Internet 101 symposium. Are these just words Trump thought sounded cool?

Oh, yeah, and in keeping with this administration’s proud tradition of never copyediting a single thing, they managed to spell “publicly” wrong. Remarkable.


I’m sure there are other things wrong with these signs. If you can spot them all, you win the prize of having an even worse case of brain worms than me.