Why Your iPhone Won’t Autocorrect “Murder,” “Suicide,” or “Abortion”

Science & Tech / Gadgets & Apps

Why Your iPhone Won’t Autocorrect “Murder,” “Suicide,” or “Abortion”

By: Nicole Capo

If the Internet has taught us anything, it’s that autocorrect can be incredibly humorous... And embarrassing.

But, did you know that autocorrect also decides exactly which words it will fix for you?

A recent in-depth report by The Daily Beast found that Apple devices running the most recent iOS software appear to have a certain list of words they won’t correct when you type them. The list includes controversial words such as “abortion,” “rape,” “ammo,” “bullet,” “drunken,” “abduct,” “arouse,” “murder,” and “virginity,” to name a few.

Mistype one letter on any of those words, and you’re on your own -- Autocorrect won’t present you with any suggestions. But type an obscure, rarely-used word like “electrodialysis,” and autocorrect will be sure to let you know if you’re making a mistake.

Though not technically censorship, the fact that your phone is coming between you and what you choose to say is somewhat problematic, especially given that there’s no disclaimer given when purchasing an Apple device or when utilizing autocorrect (which is a default feature on Apple products).

“I hate to say it, but I don’t think this should surprise anyone,” explained Jillian York, the director for international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Apple is one of the most censorious companies out there.” In fact, Apple has previously refused to join other digital companies like Google and Microsoft in their nonprofit venture with human rights groups to advocate for free expression online via the Global Network Initiative.

To be fair, the idea of a “kill list” isn’t just an Apple product problem. Other companies are averse to including swear words on their phone’s spell check features as well (which Gizmodo came up with a handy solution to, in case you’ve got an incurably filthy mouth).

And, luckily, autocorrect does learn from multiple usages, so if you really want to talk about being drunk or losing your virginity all the time, autocorrect will eventually figure it out (though the learning feature doesn’t work for swearing). Until your phone learns all the controversial words you like to use, however, you’ll just have to tell Apple to go duck itself.

[Pic via Flickr -- Yutaka Tsutano]

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