SuperMeme: Why is the ‘alt text’ badge hijacking dividing users on Twitter?

(ETX Daily Up) – The image is on Twitter, with its white background, the two words “Click Here” and an arrow, pointing to the lower left towards the “ALT” badge. Taken up by many brands and users, this meme is still controversial on the social network and we’ll explain why. It’s our SuperMeme of the week.

It’s the same trend on Twitter at the beginning of May. Very simple in appearance, a white background with two words ‘Click Here’ written on it and an arrow pointing to the bottom left corner of the image where the ‘ALT’ badge is placed. This badge is actually the “alt text” option. By clicking on it, all users will then have access to the text.

internet users can activate this option when publishing an image to add a description to the visual, which in particular allows visually impaired or blind users to use a speech synthesis to read it. Here’s what Twitter says: “Add descriptions: You can add a description, also known as alt text, to your photos to make them accessible to even more people, including people who are blind or visually impaired. Good descriptions are succinct, but they tell you what’s on in the photo. on your photos accurately and allows you to understand the context”.

The image has been used by many brand accounts such as Ligue 1 Uber Eats or Logitech and even by the city of Paris, but indirectly, so much so that it has gone viral on the social network. And it is precisely this point that has divided Twitter users. Instead of adding an exact description of the image, some users have decided to playfully ride the trend. The Paris2024 account thus added a description unrelated to the image but in connection with the 2024 Olympics: “451 days before the Olympic Games 484 days before the Paralympic Games”. In the meantime, the Ligue 1 account Uber Eats has decided to use the option to launch a match: “Who will be the 1st scorer of TFC-RCL? (tonight at 21). Two seats for the J35 match of your choice to win – Comment with the name of the 1st scorer + the match you want to see”. Just like the Logitech G France account which has chosen to offer a reduction: “promo code of 35% if you guess the CM’s favorite game”.

Which was not at all to the taste of some users who reported this misuse: “The cm should above all stop using alt text to make jokes, there are people with screen readers for whom it is important that it is used correctly ?” commented the user @Moeani_. “Couldn’t enter image description other than shooting a trend, no surprise.”, he wrote Clemency in response to the publication of the Ligue 1 Uber Eats account. This even led to an exchange between a user and the Paris2024 account: “It is disappointing that you use ALT text (an accessibility tool for the visually impaired and blind) to a meme. The ALT text should explain what’s in the image. You didn’t, which rules out people who are blind.” joked the user. Chris Kyle. To which the Paris2024 account replied: “We use it as soon as possible to explain what is in our photos. You can consult Chris and we will try to continue until the end of the Games.” An answer that was not enough for the user who concluded by saying: “But the alt text does not explain what is in your photo in that tweet. You are only using it as a joke”.

While many users and brands have succumbed to this trend, some have still taken advantage of this buzz to make good use of the “alt text” option and benefit from the algorithm. This is the case with the account of the NBA basketball team, the Golden State Warriors. They opted to add a description of a photo of Stephen Curry indicating, that he has garnered more than 31,000 likes.

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