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National LGBTQ Task Force

Twitter on Tuesday blamed a technical issue for preventing search results for a range of sexuality-related terms, including "bisexual" and "queer." The company also issued an apology, saying that the move was "not consistent with our values as a company."

As Axios reported on Sunday, the issue drew the ire of LGBTQ individuals and organizations, many of whom noted that Twitter was blocking legitimate content even as it failed to adequately stop white supremacist and other hate speech.

Why it matters: This isn't the first time Twitter has been confronted for blocking LGBTQ-themed content, nor is Twitter the only tech giant to struggle with the issues. Google's YouTube came under fire after it was flagging a wide swath of LGBTQ videos as "restricted content."

Here is Twitter's full statement, compiled from a series of tweets.

Late last week, we discovered a technical issue that affected search results: searches for certain words related to sexuality did not populate complete results. We apologize for anyone negatively impacted by this bug. It is not consistent with our values as a company.

As outlined in our media policy, media that may be considered sensitive is collapsed in places such as search results, meaning that images and videos would be presented as a link, not automatically populated.One of the signals we use to identify sensitive media is a list of terms that frequently appear alongside adult content.

Many of these words on the list are not inherently explicit, which is why they must be used alongside other signals to determine if content is sensitive.

Our implementation of this list in search allowed Tweets to be categorized based solely on text, w/out taking other signals into account. Also, the list was out of date, had not been maintained and incorrectly included terms that are primarily used in non-sensitive contexts.

When all Tweets containing certain terms were incorrectly collapsed on the photos, video and news search tabs, the search results in those tabs returned an error message indicating that no content was available.

We have audited the list and removed terms that should not have been included. We are making changes during the next 24 hours to correct this mistake. Once we are confident it is completely resolved, we'll share an update here.

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.