Updated Jan 29, 2024 - Technology

X lifts block on searches for Taylor Swift

 Taylor Swift attends the 81st Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton on January 07, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California.

Taylor Swift attending the Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, earlier this month. Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

X blocked searches for Taylor Swift after fake sexually explicit AI-generated images of the singer circulated on the social media platform, an executive said on Sunday.

The latest: Joe Benarroch, head of business operations at X, said in a statement to media Monday: "Search has been re-enabled and we will continue to be vigilant for any attempt to spread this content and will remove it if we find it."

The big picture: It was not immediately known whether X has taken such blocking action before, but the platform formerly known as Twitter has been criticized for its content moderation policies since the 2022 Elon Musk-led takeover.

  • X CEO Linda Yaccarino has said X embraces an approach called "freedom of speech, not reach" — meaning it has zero tolerance for illegal content, but won't ban posts that are "lawful, but awful."

State of play: White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called the fake images on Friday "alarming" after some were viewed millions of times. She urged social media companies to act against "the spread of misinformation and nonconsensual, intimate imagery of real people."

  • Searches for Swift's name were still returning the message "Something went wrong. Try reloading" as of 2:10am Monday ET.

Of note: Using Swift's full name in quotes, rearranging related search words or adding to them was still returning results.

What they're saying: "This is a temporary action and done with an abundance of caution as we prioritize safety on this issue," Benarroch said in a statement to media Monday regarding the block.

  • Representatives for X did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper: Yaccarino defends X over hate speech rise accusations

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout, including the headline — which was updated to reflect that the block has been lifted.

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