Twitter's anti-porn filter is preventing Dominic Cummings from trending

Twitter’s anti-porn filter is preventing Dominic Cummings from trending

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief advisor, Dominic Cummings, has been one of the most widely discussed and reported upon persons in the UK over the last few days. Cummings, who had breached lockdown rules amid the Covid-19 pandemic, has been a hot topic on social media as well.

However, you will not find Cummings’ name as a trending topic on Twitter. Reason – Twitter’s anti-porn filters have blocked Dominic Cummings’ name from its list of trending topics.

While the correct spelling of Cummings’ surname fell foul of Twitter’s filtering process, it has prompted a number of misspellings to trend instead as online debate over his alleged breach of coronavirus lockdown rules raged on.

The filter also affects suggested hashtags, meaning users who tried to type  #dominiccummings were instead presented with one of the misspelled variations to auto-complete, helping them trend instead. Misspellings which have appeared among the trending topics in the past five days include #cummnings, #dominiccummigs and #sackcummimgs, as well as his first name on its own and the hashtag #sackdom.

Accidental filtering such as in this case is a recognised irritant in the technical world known as the Scunthorpe problem, so-called because of the Lincolnshire town’s frequent issues with censorship.

Bizarrely, the shortened hashtag #cumgate has also trended, since the first syllable is not included in Twitter’s filter list, apparently in an attempt to avoid the Scunthorpe problem applying too broadly – for instance, by blocking words such as cucmber, incumbent, cumbersome or even Benedict Cumberbatch.

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