Taylor Swift’s feud with Kanye West had a larger impact than most of us probably realized. According to a new profile of Instagram’s CEO Kevin Systrom, published by Wired, this celebrity strife served as a “live test case” for the social media platform’s anti-harassment policies.
Suffice it to say, Swift and Yeezy have had a complicated relationship ever since the rapper interrupted the pop star’s big moment at the 2009 MTV VMAs, but last July Kim Kardashian threw kerosene on her husband’s already inflamed drama. The reality TV star claimed in a GQ profile that Swift approved the infamous “I made that b—- famous” line in West’s “Famous,” though the “Bad Blood” singer denied it.
Where Instagram’s new policies came in was after Kardashian released a tweet to her followers. “They have holidays for everybody, I mean everything these days,” she tweeted, noting it was National Snake Day.
She then directed her followers to SnapChat, on which she posted a series of videos seeming to show Swift verbally approving the “Famous” line to West over the phone. Swift posted a response on Instagram, saying there’s still no proof she gave her blessing to “that b—-” line.
Soon, the comments on Swift’s Instagram posts were flooded with snake emoji. They began vanishing, however, when Systrom’s team tested out a filter that would quietly delete specific keywords and emoji from users’ feeds. The feature was then rolled out to all users in September as a way to “hide inappropriate comments.”
As it happens, the profile also mentions that West’s lyrics have been used to test a Facebook system called DeepText, which is designed to identify the meaning of words based on how they function with the other words in sentences. The filter still has a ways to go. The piece’s author, Nicholas Thompson, notes that every word in these lyrics to “Famous” were blocked: “For my southside n—-s that know me best/ I feel like me and Taylor still might have sex/ Why, I made that b—- famous.”