Update: 3/15/2021, 3:40 p.m.:
A bug that gave some Twitter users a 12-hour ban for saying the word “Memphis” has been resolved, Twitter says. For realsies this time.
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“[On Sunday], there was a system issue impacting accounts that Tweeted the word ‘Memphis’. The issue mistakenly requested that account owners delete those Tweets and temporarily limited their account features. The affected accounts are now reinstated and this issue has been resolved,” said a Twitter spokesperson via email.
That statement noticeably fails to disclose what caused the issue in the first place, and Twitter declined to comment when asked for further details.
At least it seems like accounts that were temporarily banned now have their full functionality restored. Twitter’s initial response to Gizmodo claimed the issue was resolved as of Sunday afternoon, but even though the ban was made in error, I and other users still received a 12-hour hold on tweeting and retweeting as a result. Now, after Twitter looked into the issue further, things appear to have returned to normal, though why it started flagging the word “Memphis” as inappropriate to begin with remains a mystery.
Due to a bizarre bug, the bird site is temporarily banning folks for tweeting the word “Memphis.” On Sunday, a number of Twitter users suddenly found their accounts locked for 12 hours apparently just for saying the word—myself included.
What Twitter has against the second-largest city in Tennessee is anyone’s guess. Maybe they’re just not big Elvis fans? Who knows.
Several users shared screenshots of the suspension alerts they received Sunday, claiming that the word that caused the problem was “Memphis.” Many discovered the bug after sharing a picture of Dutch professional soccer player Memphis Depay, the Independent reports. In an apparent reference to this, the official English account for the French soccer club Olympique Lyonnais tweeted a picture of Depay along with the message “can we talk about him yet?” and tagged Twitter. The Tennessee-based basketball team the Memphis Grizzlies also appeared to shout out the bug in a tweet referencing “the m word” on Sunday.
One user shared a purported screenshot of a response from Twitter Support calling the issue “a bug within our system” with no further explanation, but it seems the original tweet has been deleted as it doesn’t show up in Twitter Support’s replies.
“This has now been fixed, and you can say ‘Memphis’ again. Sorry about that,” the message reads.
A Twitter spokesperson also provided Gizmodo the following statement: “The issue referenced was a result of a bug, and has since been resolved.”
However, if true, that doesn’t seem to be the case for everyone. Twitter wouldn’t let me back into my account until I deleted my “Memphis” tweet and even then several features are still limited. Trying to tweet or retweet anything prompts an alert, pictured below, that my account will remain mostly out of commission for the next 12 hours. We’ve reached out to Twitter for further clarification on this.
Not that I’m complaining, really. A 12-hour break from this hellsite sounds like a vacation.
Whatever this bug is, it may only affect us blue-checkless proles, as Twitter doesn’t appear to flag my verified coworker’s tweets containing the word. Pictures or image descriptions with the word “Memphis” also don’t seem to trip Twitter’s ban hammer.
There’s a certain irony in seeing Twitter’s swift crackdown on the word “Memphis” after years of struggling to moderate the rampant abuse and bigotry on its platform. But that’s Twitter for you: an online haven for literal Nazis but god forbid you tweet about the birthplace of rock ‘n roll.