People seem awfully concerned with Hurricane ‘Harvery’ thanks to misspelled viral hashtag
If you hadn’t been paying attention to this week’s national weather news, you might think Hurricane “Harvery” is leaving flooding and mass destruction through Texas in its wake instead of Hurricane Harvey—the real name of the natural disaster. Why? Because that’s the trending hashtag for the storm ripping through south and southeast Texas.
Yep, #HurricaneHarvery seems to have become the United States’ go-to hashtag for all things Hurricane Harvey related. Even verified Twitter accounts for news organizations have fallen victim to the misspelled trending topic.
There could be a number of reasons why Twitter users have gotten #HurricaneHarvery trending as opposed to #HurricaneHarvey, and it’s not just because an entire population of people don’t know how to spell “Harvey.”
For the record, I myself typed “hurricane harvery” into Google‘s desktop search engine earlier today and didn’t realize it until Google suggested “harvey” instead—perhaps several other people did the same while tweeting and didn’t have an autocorrect feature to tell them?
In response to an inquiry from the Daily Dot, a Twitter spokesperson directed us to Twitter’s frequently asked questions on trends. According to the page, trends are solely determined by algorithms, meaning they don’t use people to course-correct when misspelled trends go viral. Once they go trending, they’ll typically show up on desktop and mobile as suggestions when you start typing in the trending term that Twitter thinks you’re referencing.
While my own suggestions are leaning toward the correct spelling, others might be getting “Harvery” instead. Then, they might tap on the suggestion to auto populate the hashtag and send the tweet out faster without realizing it’s misspelled.
Additionally, people pointing out the misspelled hashtag by using the hashtag will also keep the misspelled trend trending. So yes, my own self-righteous tweet isn’t helping the situation.
However, there is some hope—sometimes the algorithm will group together trends and hashtags, meaning that we could see #HurricaneHarvey trending, with tweets about #HurricaneHarvery, “hurricane,” “Harvey,” and related tweets nested inside the trend.
Until then, just know, dear reader, that the U.S. isn’t doomed because we all don’t know how to spell the name of Sabrina the teenage witch’s love interest or Batman’s two-faced nemesis. And please, look through the hashtag to signal-boost potentially life-saving messages or learn how else to help the people weathering the storm.