- Ta-Nehisi Coates dismantles Mitch McConnell’s anti-reparations argument Wednesday 7:52 PM
- Whoopi Goldberg stirs debate over her opinion regarding Bella Thorne’s nudes Wednesday 7:04 PM
- Joe Biden really, really hates raves Wednesday 6:02 PM
- RIP to the Twitter geotagging feature that no one actually used Wednesday 5:14 PM
- Facebook contractors reveal the horrors of moderating graphic content Wednesday 4:42 PM
- Prosecutor almost directly quoted Bible in trial against man who helped migrants Wednesday 4:05 PM
- TikTok’s time warp videos get it twisted Wednesday 4:03 PM
- Is a ‘Stranger Things’ and Fortnite crossover event going to happen? Wednesday 3:55 PM
- YouTube reportedly thinking about moving all kids content off the main site Wednesday 3:50 PM
- AOC calls out Democrats for tone-deaf Beyoncé tweet Wednesday 3:15 PM
- Democrat candidates come out as ‘wife guys’ Wednesday 2:45 PM
- Poll of best Batman actors fails to include Adam West, and fans are not happy Wednesday 2:25 PM
- ‘Pose’ producer Janet Mock lands historic Netflix deal Wednesday 1:54 PM
- Teen confesses to killing her best friend on video to get $9 million from a stranger online Wednesday 1:28 PM
- Democrats vote to block transgender troop ban Wednesday 12:17 PM
Google Keyboard’s censorship can’t help but be odd and arbitrary.
Google may have a master list of “inappropriate” words for which predictive text is disabled—1,400 in all—baked into the source code of KitKat, Android’s most recent operating system, but the crudity of the human mind respects no such bounds. Just because our HTC One won’t autocomplete the word “cunnilingus” for us, doesn’t mean we have to accept such linguistic oppression.
Sure, you could turn off the filter in your Google Keyboard settings, or just save each word manually whenever it comes up in conversation (which would explain why my phone suggests “blowjobs” as soon as I’ve keyed in the first three letters). Wouldn’t it be more fun, though, to discover that while Android won’t finish the words “clitoris” or “uterus” for you, it helpfully points you in the direction of “clitoral” and “uterine”? Damn those adjectival forms!
Swipe H-O-R, on the other hand, and Android will immediately suspect that someone is “horny,” which is not something I’ve ever texted or emailed—I’m more of a “randy” guy, though it keeps getting capitalized into a person. Almost all terms for female, undergarments, anatomy, and hygiene, up to and including “thong” and “lactation,” are blocked, but feel free to breeze through “penis” (Apologies to anyone trying to type “peninsula,” Android’s second-best guess.) “Tampons” may only be referred to in plural form, but did you actually mean “Tampa”?
Racial slurs are banned, though it appears that harmless Muslim terms “Sunni” and “Iftar” fell under the same sword. Most euphemisms for sex are missing; you’ll have to make do with “shagging.” Android won’t help you out with any synonyms for “vomit,” or the word itself, which is inconvenient for all the heroic drinkers out there, but “methamphetamine” and “cocaine” are in there, perhaps to make the DEA’s job easier. Tough luck, Coca-Cola; maybe next time you’ll go for an an ad buy-in.
Even with all the ways of getting around Google’s prudish autocomplete function, please remember: There’s no substitute for swearing like a sailor at a little league game, or talking about your STI symptoms on a crowded bus. Why limit your filth to a phone when the whole world ought to hear it? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy some condiments. Er, condoms.
Miles Klee is a novelist and web culture reporter. The former editor of the Daily Dot’s Unclick section, Klee’s essays, satire, and fiction have appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly, Vanity Fair, 3:AM, Salon, the Awl, the New York Observer, the Millions, and the Village Voice. He's the author of two odd books of fiction, 'Ivyland' and 'True False.'