Typing “racist” into Twitter’s people search yielded US President Donald Trump as the first suggested account on Wednesday, the British news outlet The Independent reports
Although Twitter has not made any statements regarding the development, it’s speculated that many of Trump’s critics are labeling him as a racist given the current political climate in the US following the recent killing of unarmed African-American man George Floyd.
Amid the widespread US protests against police brutality, one of Trump’s tweets was flagged by the social media platform for “glorifying violence.” In the May 29 post, Trump said that “thugs” are “dishonoring the memory of George Floyd.” He also wrote that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
In a statement to AFP, Greg Sterling, a contributing editor at the website Search Engine Land, said the Twitter search result may indicate that “so many people are using the words ‘racist’ or ‘racism’ to respond to or describe Donald Trump, or there’s a concerted effort to associate Trump’s account with those terms.”
However, it’s also possible that many Trump supporters trying to defend the president from accusations of racism may also be using the term “racist” in their replies.
Sterling also noted to AFP that Twitter’s ranking algorithm for tweets “uses a variety of signals, including how recently the tweet was published, its relevance (personalization), user engagement with the tweet, the presence of rich media (such as video or images) and several other variables.”
Kjerstin Thorson, a Michigan State University politics and social media professor, told AFP that a more comprehensive analysis is necessary to determine why Trump was being associated with racism on Twitter, but noted that “it’s not unlikely this could be an accurate representation of what people are saying” on the social media site.