In brief:

  • Twitter will remove all slavery-related terminology from its programming code.
  • All prior mentions of such terms will be retroactively excised from all internal documentation—a process for which new automated tools are being built.
  • Twitter follows in the footsteps of Github, which recently decided to remove "master" and "slave" terminology from its code.

Twitter has abandoned the use of “master” and “slave” terminology in its programming code. The terminology has links, obviously, to the slave trade.

On June 2, Twitter released a list of “non-inclusive” terms common to programming which they would excise from common use. “Master” and “slave” will turn into “leader” and “follower”; “whitelist” will turn into “denylist” and the gendered “guys” will become “folks.”

Twitter's new words. Image: Twitter

In line with its new policy, Twitter will change its source code, both manually and automatically. “Automated tools and linters are being developed in order to minimize manual effort for developers,” tweeted its official engineering account, Twitter Engineering.

The account said: “Inclusive language plays a critical role in fostering an environment where everyone belongs. At Twitter, the language we have been using in our code does not reflect our values as a company or represent the people we serve. We want to change that.”

Posts from the Twitter Engineering account continued, stating that the shift in terminology would take a long time to enact.

“There is no switch we can flip to make these changes everywhere, at once. We will continue to iterate on this work and want to put in place processes and systems that will allow us to apply these changes at scale,” it tweeted.

Rewriting coding history

All existing internal documents, design documents, Google Docs, FAQs, and readmes present online will also be rewritten in the coming months.

The move to remove such “non-inclusive” terms was led by Regynald Augustin and Kevin Oliver—two Twitter employees who said the terms were too closely related with darker days in America’s history.

Social uproar

Many disagreed with Twitter’s announcement. One commenter called it an attempt to condition human beings to rely on external validation. Twitter user @AwakeningWarri3 wrote:

“It’s clear this is an attempt to condition humanity to become overly PC and to think the external world’s validation actually matters. WE are god. Not twitter, not any govt, not any ruler.”

Another commenter suggested that Twitter’s move to appease protest groups was merely a PR move. User @Liquidtravel wrote:

“The fact there are no responses demonstrates there is no real dedication behind this action. This is pure PR and nothing more.”

Love it or hate it, “blacklist” and “whitelist” may soon be foreign words to developers.