Sat. Jun 6th, 2020

Gboard Adds COVID-19-related Words to Emergency Bad Words List

2 min read

Google supports freedom of speech, but it’s also a company that guards the rights of its users all over the world. One of the measures for that purpose is the list of Emergency Bad Worlds on the Gboard app for Android and iOS. This list lets the keyboard app to block certain words and phrases that may be considered offensive to any group of people. Experts from the Freepps site reviewed the list of prohibited words and found an update that contains Coronavirus-related words and phrases. The same finding was reported by security vulnerabilities expert, Jane Manchun Wong.

Automatic Correction

Google added the new pack of prohibited words without any announcements. Now, the algorithm of the app can autocorrect any word that relates to COVID-19 and looks offensive. The current list isn’t long but certainly helps to reduce a particular percentage of conflicts around the coronavirus outbreak. Google analytics noticed that some users blame Chinese people for the outbreak, which is an outrageous act.

Wong extracted the list of new words, and they include “China disease,” “China virus,” “Chinese Disease,” “Chinese virus,” “Asia disease,” and “Asia virus.” It’s quite clear that the list doesn’t cover the full range of possible expressions, but it’s better than nothing. Perhaps, the list will grow in accordance with the average number of detected offensive phrases sent by Android and iOS users who installed Gboard.

In case you didn’t know, Coronavirus (COVID-19) first appeared in China, and some politicians started to call it “China virus” or other forms of this phrase to highlight the Chinese origin of the disease. As a result, many Asian people stated to report about cases of racist attacks and racist-fueled cyberbullying.

Normal Practice?

It’s not the first censorship list on Google’s Gboard app. Earlier last year, the company has added a broad list of sexual, racist, and extremist phrases to the app. The keyboard is tuned to detect and remove them via the autocorrect feature. Google’s initiative helps to reduce only a small number of cases, but it’s an important investment in the future development of automatic anti-harassment technologies.

According to findings of Freepps.top researchers, in 2020, 36.5% of all Internet users claim that they’ve been cyberbullied at least once, while 17.4% reported cyberbullying during the last 30 days. The number of cases has more than doubled since 2007. It means that there are not enough preventive measures undertaken by large web companies to reduce the phenomenon.

Let’s Be Responsible

At Freepps.top, we are strongly convinced that such measures are necessary, but it seems to be impossible to change the situation dramatically without users’ efforts. Cooperative actions against cyberbullying, such as reporting to moderators and blocking aggressive users, could help even better than censorship activities.