Today, Wired filed what is surely the greatest correction issued by any publication in this still-young year. It originated with a smart piece on what Wired’s Jason Tanz calls “marginal media,” content “in which background activity overwhelms the intended subject.” By way of example, Tanz points to Chris Christie’s dead gaze while he stood off to the side after introducing Donald Trump last week. Except instead of referring to Donald Trump, the article called the candidate “Someone with Tiny Hands.” The error apparently remained on the site for almost two hours before Wired fixed it.
As a note appended to the article explains, this error was the product of “a haphazardly-installed Chrome extension during the editing process.” That Chrome extension—“Make America’s Hands Tiny Again”—is one of several designed to mock Trump. In this case, it’s easy to understand how the error might have come about—much as it’s hard to really fault anyone involved for this delightful slip-up: Used to seeing the phrase in question, the piece’s editor might not have realized that it had found its way into the actual text of the article.
Word-swap Chrome extensions can be charming, dopey, and sometimes even revealing. I’ve written about one that changes millennials to snake people, and here at Slate we even made an extension of our own that changes the name Alphabet back to Google. More recently, John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight created one that changes the businessman’s name to Drumpf wherever it appears on a page.
This being the Internet, there is, of course, the possibility that the correction itself is a prank, not least of all because this marginal detail has attracted far more attention than the actual article. Tanz, for his own part, has claimed that it’s real on Twitter, though he also acknowledges that the mistake has generated a great deal of traffic. “[W]e should do it again next week,” he proposes.
Update, March 9, 2016, 11:50 a.m.: As Julia Carrie Wong notes on Twitter, the swap persisted elsewhere on Wired’s site, even after the magazine corrected the errors in Tanz’ article: