The ‘M’ word that got users suspended, and why Twitter’s apologizing

You could tweet all you wanted about Beale Street, where the blues were born. No problem if you debated the merits of dry rub versus wet sauce for Tennessee barbecue, in 280 characters or less.

But for several hours Sunday, simply tweeting the word “Memphis” would get your Twitter account locked along with a vague notification alleging you’d violated platform policy.

Naturally, some Twitter users suspected a conspiracy was afoot. Others tweeted it themselves to see if uttering the ancient name had really become a bannable offense — and indeed, it had.

A French professional soccer team, Olympique Lyonnais, faced another problem — one of their players is named Memphis Depay.

Twitter acknowledged the issue as a “bug” and said it had been resolved by the evening, but stopped short of explaining how or why the issue arose.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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