Google’s new feature will encourage gender-neutral language

Google recently announced that it will start strongly encouraging users to use more gender-neutral language while using Google Workspace.

Google last updated its internal style guide in 2020, but the newest changes will provide non-gendered alternatives to “generic masculine” language as well as stylistic suggestions that will prevent the use of “offensive language” — although what the company deems “offensive” isn’t clearly laid out.

Now, users on Google Docs will be given options to replace words like “chairman” and “policeman” with “chairperson” and “police officer.”

This announcement comes in tandem with a June 10 piece in The New York Times, where Google said they are working on changing its algorithm to prevent “slander sites” from popping up during searches. A previous Times article from April discussed how these negative sites could ruin someone’s reputation and are also guilty of “gaming [the] system” when it comes to page rankings.

Engadget, which reported on Google’s announcement, also pointed out that “if it’s possible to destroy someone’s reputation simply because a trashy post ranks high on Google’s search results, that suggests the company has an outsized influence on the internet as a whole.”

Hopefully, Google’s attempts to be more inclusive may serve as an influential example to other sites and platforms.

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