Why Twitter Users Were Banned for Saying 'Memphis' on Social Media Platform

Twitter has apologized after some accounts were restricted on Sunday because their posts contained the word "Memphis."

Users of the social media site found that tweeting the word would quickly result in an automated 12-hour block on tweets, retweets, follows or likes, as the platform had deemed it to be against its policies.

"You may not publish or post other people's private information without their express authorization and permission," a warning read, according to screenshots of those impacted, and a user who tested it out.

Twitter did not elaborate on the exact reason for the issue and it remains unclear how many accounts were affected as of Monday morning. The platform has been contacted for comment by Newsweek.

Its official support account said: "A number of accounts that tweeted the word 'Memphis' were temporarily limited due to a bug. It's been fixed and the accounts have now been restored. We're sorry this happened."

A number of accounts that Tweeted the word “Memphis” were temporarily limited due to a bug. It’s been fixed and the accounts have now been restored. We’re sorry this happened.

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) March 14, 2021

The restrictions were reported by Gizmodo and The Independent, which noted the bug had initially caught the attention of users who were attempting to tweet about the Dutch soccer player Memphis Depay.

Sharing a photo of Depay on Sunday, the French soccer club Olympique Lyonnais captioned it: "Hey, @Twitter - can we talk about him yet?"

Another high-profile Twitter account to acknowledge the bug was the Memphis Grizzlies, a professional basketball team in Tennessee.

"When bots flood our comments with 'say the m word,"' it stated in a post, referencing accounts that were discussing the mystery Memphis bug. It attached a short clip of its player Brandon Clarke blocking a shot.

An iOS developer named Noah Evans shared a video in a tweet showing the bug in action, noting he had "sacrificed" a second account to test it. In the clip, the profile was restricted after posting a sentence that contained the word.

Don’t Tweet this.

Sacrificed my second account for it.

🤔🤔🤔 pic.twitter.com/4iHmiAzY23

— Noah Evans (@ThisIsNoahEvans) March 14, 2021

Another user with the handle @dragonballdad posted a screenshot of the warning they had received after using the word. "Got Twitter banned for releasing the private confidential information that Elvis is from Memphis I mean who knew," they said in an update after regaining their access.

Back got Twitter banned for releasing the private confidential information that Elvis is from Memphis I mean who knew pic.twitter.com/6CpwgSCLf4

— Mark (@dragonballdad) March 15, 2021

It was not clear if all accounts were so swiftly restored. Gizmodo reporter Alyse Stanley said her profile—restricted while testing the bug—was only restored after the post with the word was deleted. But even after the post was purged, the account remained limited for hours without the ability to either tweet or retweet, Stanley reported.

Although the moderation bug is seemingly fixed, some users continued to repeatedly post the word on Monday morning to test it for themselves.

Twitter logo
The Twitter logo is seen on a phone in this photo illustration in Washington, DC, on July 10, 2019. Twitter has apologized after some accounts were restricted on Sunday if their posts contained the word “Memphis.” ALASTAIR PIKE/AFP/Getty Images