clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

When I searched Twitter for Carl Nassib, why did it show me a gay sex act?

I have questions about Twitter’s algorithm when I searched for the Raiders lineman.

Philadelphia Eagles v Las Vegas Raiders
Carl Nassib warms up prior to the Raiders’ Oct. 24 game against the Eagles.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Warning: Image below is graphic and not safe for work.

I was doing a search on Twitter on Sunday to see if Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib had made any news lately and entered “carl nassib” in the search field.

Under “top” results was this tweet from a tweeter named Matt Light, showing a weird and graphic image from the Steelers and Browns game — a Cleveland fan’s prop showing what appears to be the head of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on a pike sucking a large severed penis. I guess this was some sort of Halloween prop meant to be funny.

Why was Twitter’s search algorithm suggesting as its “top” result a tweet from a game that had nothing to do with Carl Nassib? The tweet did not reference him and neither did any of the top comments below the tweet.

I found the linkage disturbing, as if Twitter’s algorithm thought it was obvious that anyone searching for information on the NFL’s only openly gay player would want to see a graphic image of a blow job by someone in a football helmet.

What was also strange is that I got served the graphic image as a top result when I enter “carl nassib” but not “Carl Nassib.” Two people I contacted to try the search themselves reported the same results.

I wrote Twitter support for an answer and got a reply: “We understand the confusion that can be caused when a Search display’s incorrect information and even sometimes explicit content. We’ve taken a look at the screenshot that was provided, and it appears this may already have been handled as we searched the same ‘Carl Nassib.’”

The image was still the top link through Monday, but it has now disappeared regardless of entering “Carl Nassib” or “carl nassib.” It is unclear if someone at Twitter delinked the result based on my contacting support or it went away on its own. The original tweet with the image is still available. (Update: A reader says he still gets the result.)

Beyond the odd algorithm is the content of the prop itself. A Cleveland Browns fan thought a necrophilic rendering of a rival QB sucking on a penis was the height of hilarity and wit and a great gotcha to the Steelers. Guess the fan didn’t know Roethlisberger had a 24-3-1 record against the Browns (it became 25-3-1 after the Steelers beat the Browns).

The prop is definitely homophobic and I wonder about someone who would carry that in public at a stadium with a lot of kids. I certainly hope it’s not someone with kids of their own.