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Google’s ‘bad words’ list blocks some inappropriate coronavirus terms on Gboard

Google’s Gboard keyboard for Android and iOS packs on plenty of features, one of those being the ability to predict what you’ll type next. In the background, though, Google has a secret list of “bad words” that it blocks from appearing in Gboard prediction results, and now that list includes a few coronavirus related terms.

Spotted by Jane Wong, Gboard has a list of words that it blocks from appearing in autocorrect. Many of these terms are either sexual or racist by nature, one also being “global warming is a hoax.” Sometime recently, though, Google also expanded the list to include some inappropriate terms related to the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 first appeared in Wuhan, China, and has since spread rapidly throughout the globe. The World Health Organization, though, named the disease caused by this novel coronavirus “COVID-19,” in part to avoid stigmatization of the virus. In recent weeks, the use of the name “China Virus” or other inappropriate terms have been spread by public figures.

Google is now actively blocking these coronavirus terms from potentially appearing through Gboard’s prediction. Terms blocked include:

  • China disease
  • China virus
  • Chinese disease
  • Chinese virus
  • Asia disease
  • Asia virus
  • virus

Gboard won’t block users from typing these terms, but it may break suggestions or autocorrect surrounding these terms as some users have noticed in the past.

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