Twitter planning ban for slew of words like ‘sanity check’ and ‘blacklist’

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Social media giant Twitter has announced plans to tweak its code to weed out and censor ‘politically incorrect’ terms like “blacklist” and “sanity check.”

“Words matter,” Michael Montano, who heads up the platform’s engineering team, wrote in a tweet Thursday. “We are committed to adopting inclusive language in our code, configuration, documentation and beyond.”

“Over the past 6 months they’ve been working hard to identify preferred inclusive language, create and implement processes and tools to help our teams adopt these changes across @TwitterEng and more broadly across the company,” he added.

Already, terms like “slave,” “master,” “blacklist,” and “sanity check” have been identified as ‘non-inclusive’ and potentially harmful.

‘Master’ and ‘slave’ will now become ‘leader’ and ‘follower,’ or ‘primary’ and ‘replica,’ CNN reports. ‘Blacklist’ has been changed to ‘denylist.’

“Inclusive language plays a critical role in fostering an environment where everyone belongs. At Twitter, the language we have been using in our code does not reflect our values as a company or represent the people we serve. We want to change that,” the platform noted in a post.

In a separate post, the social media company posted a set of words and phrases that will be changed.

“There is no switch we can flip to make these changes everywhere, at once. We will continue to iterate on this work and want to put in place processes and systems that will allow us to apply these changes at scale,” the company continued in a thread.

The company also said that the changes would apply to “Google Docs, runbooks, FAQS, readmes, technical design docs, and more.”

This isn’t just about eng terms or code. Words matter in our meetings, our conversations, and the documents we write. We know there’s still a lot of work to do, but we’re committed to doing our part. #UntilWeAllBelong,” the thread continued.

[insert tweet]

The platform has also identified “grandfathered” and “dummy value” as problematic. The former will become “legacy status” and the latter “placeholder value” or “sample value.”

In addition, JPMorgan Chase is changing language as well, removing “slave,” “master” and “blacklist” from its internal materials and code.

At Twitter, the effort to change language (and for some, the meaning) was begun by engineer Regynald Augustin after seeing “an email come through to our eng org with the line ‘automatic slave rekick.’ Seeing it was infuriating.”

Interestingly, however, Augustin’s twitter handle contains a version of the “n” word.

Twitter’s decision to change commonly-used and understood words is being widely panned by several users online, with some even suggesting that it is time to switch to a platform like Parler which is committed to the restoration of language and the right to speak and express freely.

“You know my relatives were Jewish and they were put in the ovens at Auschwitz. But I don’t ask that The world stops using the words German, Aryan, Deathcamps Or Oven in their language because it’s too painful for me. Come on!” wrote one user.


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Jon Dougherty


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