Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs tragically and suddenly passed away Monday at the age of 27, but attempts to pay tribute to him on Twitter quickly went awry.
The hashtag #RIP45 began showing up in the Trends for you section for many Twitter users, as Skaggs wore jersey No. 45 for the Angels. Unfortunately, 45 is also the number often associated with President Donald Trump, the 45th U.S. president, and therein lies the rub.
Tweets paying respects to Skaggs and sending thoughts and prayers to his family ended up intermingled with tweets mocking Trump’s “death,” tweets blasting people for doing so and tweets reminding people what the actual purpose of the hashtag was.
When #RIP45 is accessed by clicking through via the Trends for you section, context is provided in both the Trends for you box and on the landing page for the hashtag. The Trends for you section contained a one-sentence explanation, while a Twitter Moment was placed atop the results on the landing page.
However, when accessing that landing page via search or clicking on the #RIP45 hashtag in a tweet, users only see tweets containing the hashtag.
In fairness to Twitter, while it is reasonable to assume that it has the capability to generate context for hashtags that are trending, either via humans or artificial intelligence, expecting the social network to be able to do so for the infinite number of hashtags that can be created is unrealistic.
Twitter had not responded to a request for comment at the time of this post.