Earlier this month, Twitter launched a new homepage designed to pull images, headlines, and hashtags from the social network's users to show its worth as a news service. It wasn't long though, until the new page made several missteps, illustrating categories like "world news" with questionable pictures including spandex-clad butts and creepy horse squirrels. Now Twitter's attempts to encompass the opinions of its millions of users have backfired again. The network's new trends feature today annotated the trending #FeministsAreUgly hashtag — a movement with a positive intention started last August by two feminists — with the headline "Ugly Feminists Freak Out Over #FeministsAreUgly Hashtag."
The headline appears to have been taken from an article published last August by The Inquisitr, but following the link, found prominently displayed on Twitter's mobile search option, took users to the hashtag itself. The effect made it appear as though the headline — presumably pulled from one of the first stories to be written about the tag in 2014 — represented Twitter's official take on the subject.
Twitter appears to have quickly responded to the problem, but rather than alter the headline used to represent the hashtag, the microblogging service looks to have scrubbed the tag from its trending lists entirely. At the time of writing, #FeministsAreUgly does not appear in the top 10 for trending topics in the US or worldwide, despite currently featuring some 7,000 more tweets than the tag that appears at the top of the list, #ExtremeRules.
The #FeministsAreUgly hashtag first surfaced in August 2014, having been created and propagated by two Twitter users who tweeted selfies alongside the tag in a bid to subvert stereotypes about feminists. Thousands joined in, but many were unsure of the hashtag's origin, believing it to be the deliberate invention of a misogynist group or user. Other feminists questioned the tag, too, arguing that it placed too much importance on their physical appearance.
Taking over #FeministsAreUgly is great, but I also think we're missing an opportunity to have a nuanced conversation about what "ugly" means— Krystie Lee Yandoli (@KrystieLYandoli) August 8, 2014
Twitter, too, by using another source's headline to represent the opinions of its users and the company, has made a judgement on people who use the tag. But unlike feminists who want to have a discussion about subjective concepts of beauty and physical standards, Twitter's careless sourcing ensured that the site called hundreds of thousands of users "ugly," just for using a brand new function designed to illuminate and inform them about the world. The Verge has contacted the company for comment on the matter.