Campaign challenges tech giants to fix autocorrect errors for inclusivity – Positive News

2 min read

We’re not ones for taking sides when it comes to politics, so we’d never accuse Priti Patel of being wrong – but a spellchecker just might.  

‘Priti’ is among the 41% of names of babies born in recent years that are routinely flagged as errors. Now a campaign – I Am Not A Typo – is calling on tech giants to ‘correct autocorrect’ in the name of equality and to better reflect a modern, multicultural UK. 

“My name is Dhruti. Not Drutee, Dirty, or even Dorito. And yet these are all words my name has been changed to, often because of an autocorrect decision or a rushed message,” says writer and journalist Dhruti Shah, who is backing the cause.  

“My first name isn’t even that long – only six characters – yet when it comes up as an error or it’s mangled and considered an unknown entity, it’s like saying that it’s not just your name that’s wrong, but you are.” 

Research behind the campaign found that almost 5,500 names given to boys and girls in England and Wales in 2021 alone received the wavy red line treatment courtesy of Microsoft’s UK English dictionary.  

They include names of African, Asian and Eastern European origin, as well as favourite monikers from Scotland, Ireland and Wales.  

Popular names like Ottilie – given to more than 1,700 girls between 2017-2021 – and Eesa, given to almost 1,500 boys, were deemed typos. Even the name Dua hit a bum note with spell checkers, as did Rafe, Esmae and Seren. 

A billboard has gone up this morning (11 March) in central London with quotes and commentary from experts recounting their personal experiences. 

Alongside billboard ads, those behind the campaign have penned an open letter to tech giants, pointing out a stunningly simple fix: the Office for National Statistics publishes an annual chart of popular babies’ names, which could easily be added – they say – to electronic dictionaries. 

“Our names are the most important words in our lives – part of our identity,” write organisers. “Our children should not be othered by the technology that is integral to their lives. And it’s up to the arbiters of that technology to fix it.


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