Twitter engineers have been working since January on an internal effort to replace problematic yet commonplace programming language like “master” and “slave,” CNET reported. It’s part of a larger effort among open-source developers who have been working to remove references to slavery from the programming community.
Microsoft-owned GitHub made a similar move last month when CEO Nat Friedman said the company was replacing the term “master” with more neutral language. Regynald Augustin was one of the programmers who spearheaded the effort.
Twitter eng recently shared that we would be making the language in our code, docs, and configs more inclusive. I want to speak on how we got here and what we’ve done so far.https://t.co/87RybaAiYA
— Regynald (@negroprogrammer) July 2, 2020
As ZDNet notes, the initiative started back in 2014 with the Drupal project, which began replacing master and slave with terms like “primary” and “replica.”
In addition to phrases like “slave,” “master,” and “blacklist,” engineering teams at Twitter are recommending going a step further to change other terms that could be considered racist, ableist, or sexist, CNET reported. The list includes changing “man hours” to “person hours,” changing “blacklist” to “denylist,” and “grandfathered” to “legacy status.”
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 https://t.co/JVO8968B7K
— Twitter Engineering (@TwitterEng) July 2, 2020
The company has supported the push for more thoughtful language. “The work the team did here will inform a larger workstream underway to guide our language to be more inclusive and more human as a company,” a Twitter spokesperson said in an email to The Verge on Thursday.
UPDATE July 2nd 1:33PM ET: Added comment from Twitter