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Twitter Replaces Racially Loaded Terms Such As “Whitelist” And “Blacklist”

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, social media platform Twitter is replacing programming terms such as “blacklist”, “whitelist”, “slave” and “master” in favour of more inclusive language.


Michael Montano, the head of Twitter’s engineering team on Thursday said, “Words matter. We want @TwitterEng to reflect our values & support our journey to become more inclusive. We are committed to adopting inclusive language in our code, configuration, documentation and beyond.”

Twitter’s engineering division said it is going to change the terms it uses in its code as it does not reflect Twitter’s values:

“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. #WordsMatter.”

Twitter Engineering also published a list of “words we want to move away from using in favor of more inclusive language”. Terms such as “whitelist” will be replaced with “allowlist”, “blacklist” with “denylist” and “slave”/”master” with “leader”/”follower” or “primary”/”replica”.

Image: Twitter Engineering

In programming speak, “whitelist” is a list of items that are granted access to a certain system or protocol. When a whitelist is used, all entities are denied access, except those included in the whitelist. While “blacklist” is a list of items, such as usernames or IP addresses, that are denied access to a certain system or protocol.

According to The Verge, these changes are part of a larger effort among open-source developers who have been working to remove references to slavery from the programming community.

America’s biggest bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) is also eliminating terms like “blacklist,” “master” and “slave” from its internal technology materials and code as it seeks to address racism within the company.

Last month, GitHub, the world’s biggest site for software developers, said it was working on changing the term ‘master’ from its coding language. The firm, owned by Microsoft, is used by 50 million developers to store and update its coding projects.

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