The New York Times was quick to change Monday’s response to its daily Wordle puzzle for fear it would be seen as some kind of commentary on the abortion rights debate.
The game, which became a sensation at the end of last year and was bought by The Times in January, gives users six attempts to guess another word in five letters each day.
Still, The Times got into trouble when they discovered that Monday’s words, which had been typed into Wordle’s computer program last year, were “fetuses.”
The timing was particularly worrying given last week’s leaked report on a draft US Supreme Court ruling that would overturn a 50-year sentence governing women’s ability to have an abortion.
The emergence of “fetus” was “completely unintentional and a coincidence”, the newspaper said in a statement to readers on Monday.
“At the New York Times Games, we take our role seriously as a place to entertain and escape, and we want Wordle to remain separate from the news,” the statement said.
The Times changed Monday’s response to another word, and a spokesman said a “large majority” of users saw it. But some people who had not updated their browsers saw “fetuses” instead, said spokesman Jordan Cohen.
He did not want to say whether The Times had received any complaints about “fetuses”.
Wordle was invented by Josh Wardle, a software engineer from Brooklyn, as a gift to his partner and took off when he started publishing it online. Players guess words and hone the correct answer as the game tells them if their guesses contain letters in today’s words.
The Times bought his invention for more than $ 1 million (approximately $ 7 million) and is innovating the technology to ensure that all users see the same word every day, the newspaper said. Cohen said millions of people play Wordle every day.