Engineers at Twitter successfully petition company to stop using racially-charged programming terms like ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’
- Twitter will change references in code and official documents
- Engineers lobbied Twitter to stop using terms like ‘master’ and ‘slave’
- The terms are commonly used to described certain programming processes
- Terms like ‘grandfathered’ and ‘man hours’ were also altered
Twitter has phased out insensitive programming terms that reference slavery after a petition by employees.
According to a report from CNET, engineers successfully convinced Twitter to nix the terms ‘master’ and ‘slave’ which are commonly used in programming language to describe the interaction between different processes.
The policy shift and subsequent call to change insensitive language was prompted by an email sent to employees titled, ‘automatic slave rekick.’
Twitter is changing policies on the use of insensitive programming langauge that references slavery after a petition by engineers (stock)
Regynald Augustin, a Black programmer who works for Twitter, started the efforts at the company and told CNET, ‘…with ‘rekick’ – I was madder than I ever thought I’d be in the workplace.’
Augstin began lobbying the company to shift its usage of racially charged terms in January, pre-dating the recent rise of Black Lives Matter protests against racial inequality.
CNET reports that Augustin and fellow engineer Kevin Oliver have also advocated for transitioning out of using other terminology that might be considered racist or sexist as well.
That includes changing from ‘man hours’ to ‘person hours,’ instead of ‘blacklist’ using the word ‘denylist,’ and changing ‘grandfathered’ to ‘legacy status.’
In a tweet, the company endorsed the engineers’ efforts and said it had revised language in its code and documents as a result.
‘Inclusive language plays a critical role in fostering an environment where everyone belongs,’ Twitter said in a statement.
‘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.’
As noted by ZDNet, similar efforts have been launched at other tech companies like GitHub which replaced the term ‘master’ with more neutral language.
That initiative was also spearheaded by Augustin.
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