Twitter is dropping coding terms like ‘master’ and ‘slave’

In this photo illustration the Twitter logo is displayed on the screen of an iPhone in front of a computer screen displaying Twitter logos. Chesnot | Getty Images. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

NEW YORK, Jul 3, 2020, Business Insider. Twitter is dropping decades-old coding terms like “master” and “slave” as the Black Lives Matter movement continues to cause ripple effects through the tech world, Business Insider reported.

The company’s engineering division tweeted out a set of words that it wants “to move away from using in favor of more inclusive language.” The list includes replacing “whitelist” with “allowlist,” “master/slave” with “leader/follower,” and “grandfathered” with “legacy status.”

In programming speak, “master” refers to the main version of code that controls the “slaves,” or the replicas.

The social media company had already been striving to incorporate inclusive language into its company culture since January. The effort was spearheaded by two Twitter engineers specifically, Kevin Oliver and Regynald Augustin, as CNET reported Thursday. But the Black Lives Matter movement ushered in a fresh sense of urgency for Twitter to swap out racially loaded terms for more inclusive phrases.

Augustin is also one of the organizers for “It Is What It Is,” a project that started off as a mysterious online trend and ended up raising more than $200,000 for charities supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and Black trans people. The project used the emoji combination ??? to gain traction on Twitter.

Twitter’s move comes as tech’s open source community as a whole is hit with a reckoning for its use of such software terms, as Business Insider’s Rosalie Chan reports. Microsoft-owned GitHub, the world’s largest site for hosting open-source software, announced in mid-June that it was working to replace “master” and “slave” with neutral terms.

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