The ‘I Am Not a Typo’ campaign calls on tech giants to correct autocorrect systems for the sake of inclusivity

Mar 11, 2024 | News

We don’t take sides in politics, so we wouldn’t accuse Priti of being wrong. But a spellchecker might.

‘Priti,’ is one of the 41% of baby names that have been flagged as errors in recent years. I Am Not A Typo, a campaign calling for tech giants to “correct autocorrect” in the name of equality and to better represent a modern multicultural UK is now underway.

“My name is Dhruti.” Not Drutee or Dirty. These are all words that my name has been altered to, usually because of an autocorrect or a rushed text message,” says writer Dhruti Shah who supports the cause.

“My name isn’t that long, only six characters, yet when it appears as an error, or it’s mangled, and it’s considered an unknown entity, that’s like saying it’s not your name, but you.

Microsoft’s UK English Dictionary, which was used to research the campaign, found that in 2021, almost 5,500 boys and girls names in England and Wales received the wavy-red-line treatment.

There are names from Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, as well as popular monikers from Scotland and Wales.

Typos were found in popular names like Ottilie, which was given to over 1,700 girls from 2017-2021, and Eesa to almost 1,500 boys. Even Dua, Rafe, Esmae, and Seren were deemed typos by spell checkers.

Dhruti is my name. My name is Dhruti. These are all words that my name has changed to

A billboard in central London was erected today (11 March), with quotes from experts and their personal experiences.

“Autocorrect is not helpful and convenient for people with names like mine.” It is not helpful,” said Rashmi D. Dyal-Chand, professor at Northeastern University and author of Autocorrecting for whiteness. “And yes, it is harmful .”

Along with billboard ads, the campaigners have written an open letter to the tech giants, pointing to a stunningly easy fix: the Office for National Statistics produces an annual chart of the most popular baby names, which they say could be easily added to electronic dictionaries.

Organisers write: “Our names are important words that define our identity. “Our children shouldn’t be ostracized by the technology which is an integral part of their lives.” It’s up to the arbiters of this technology to fix it.”

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