Twitter on Thursday morning blocked “Uncle Tim” from trending after the phrase — based on the racial slur “Uncle Tom” — was used by many users following GOP Sen. Tim Scott’s rebuttal to President Biden’s speech to Congress.
Scott, a Black American who has served as the junior senator from South Carolina since 2013, said “America is not a racist country” in his speech. At the same time, Scott said he’s been the target of racist slights from individuals, including being “called Uncle Tom, and the N-word, by progressives, by liberals.”
The phrase Uncle Tom is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as a disparaging remark towards a Black person “who is overeager to win the approval of whites (as by obsequious behavior or uncritical acceptance of white values and goals).”
Soon after his speech on Wednesday night, the phrase “Uncle Tim” started trending. Writer Touré tweeted “Tim Scott gets called Uncle Tom by progressives. But he’s an Uncle Tim.” Another user, who describes herself as a “Canadian Resister” who is “anti-hate” in her Twitter bio, responded to a tweet from Scott saying “Hi, Uncle Tim. How does it feel to spread disinformation and be a traitor to your race and to your country?” And there were plenty of other examples that helped get the slur trending.
On Thursday morning, a Twitter spokesperson confirmed the company was now blocking the phrase from its Trends section, which highlights topics that are being heavily discussed. The slur was trending for several hours before the company took action.
“We want Trends to promote healthy conversations on Twitter,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “This means that at times, we may not allow or may temporarily prevent content from appearing in Trends until more context is available.”
The spokesperson did not respond to TheWrap’s question on why the phrase was highlighted for several hours before being removed.