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Googling it? It might be banned

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GOOGLE recently released a new version of its keyboard for Android, and as reported in Wired, it comes with a list of 1,400 words "that Google has quietly deemed inappropriate for Android users." This means Android's dictionary will not autocomplete these words, no matter the context. Unsurprisingly, many of the words are sex-related, but the scope of the prudery is rather shocking. It's not just that you have to type out all three letters when you write "sex" in a text message. The dictionary also refuses to autocomplete words such as Tampax, butt and even condom, which could tragically lead lazy people to resort to the word rubber for their contraception-needs texts.

However, there are political implications here as well. While Google has long had good reasons to ban "a frat party's worth of homophobia and misogyny," as Jon Christian at Wired puts it, the ban on autocompleting words for body parts and functions such as uterus and lactation reinforces the idea there's something shameful about having these kinds of body parts and functions at all.

There are more questionable choices in the ban list. Some genius at Google decided to put geek on the no-no list. And for no discernible reason, Sunni and Iftar are banned, though no other religious words appear to be. So if you are inclined to think these choices aren't politically loaded, well...

But back to icky "sex." Other banned words include "STI"; if you want to do the responsible thing and communicate with your partner about sexually transmitted infections, you better type it all out, or call. Preggers is also a not OK. Google prefers "with child."

 

-- Slate

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 14, 2013 D10

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