The tech industry has seen a movement to terminate the terms “master” and “slave” for years due to their reference to slavery. Now the terms “blacklist” and “whitelist” join the list, for being seemingly non-inclusive.
On Thursday, Twitter became the largest platform to pledge towards moving to more inclusive, inoffensive language and said it will phase out the terms, along with several others. The terms will be replaced by more politically acceptable language.
In programming terms, “master” refers to the main code, while “slave” is used to describe its controls. The terms “whitelist” and “blacklist,” which have no racist connotations, are self-explanatory.
Twitter says it will replace “master/slave” with “leader/follower.”
“Whitelist” and “blacklist” will be replaced by “allowlist” and “denylist,” accordingly.
Likewise, Twitter also plans to get rid of other potentially offensive terms used by employees in everyday speech, including “sanity check,” “man hours,” and “dummy value.” (Can we get a vibe check for how its employees are feeling under the new social justice-oriented rules…)
Twitter isn’t the first company to adopt more inclusive (read: politically correct) language policies, joining the likes of Google’s Chromium, Android and GitHub.
“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,” said Twitter in a statement, adding that “inclusive language plays a critical role in fostering an environment where everyone belongs.”
“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 said.
“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.”