My Name Is 'Savan,' Not 'Satan.' Autocorrect's Obsession With Changing Names Is Causing a Slew of Controversy

  • A UK campaign is calling for tech companies to make changes to their autocorrect software.

  • Some names are changed because they aren’t “Western” enough.

I am not a typo
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I fought Microsoft Word for years—and lost the battle. When I wrote about companies like Acer and their new products, that word processor would correct me repeatedly. When I would type “Acer,” and the software would automatically change the word. There was no way for it to know that I was talking about Acer. Well, it turns out that the autocorrect nightmare is even worse for other people.

My name isn’t Satan, it’s Savan. According to The Guardian, people with Irish, Welsh, and Indian names, among others, are protesting the autocorrect systems on our devices. Savan-Chandmi Gandecha, a British Indian content creator, complains that autocorrect keeps changing his name to “Satan.”

I’m tired of it. Savan points out, “My name has also been corrected to Savant. It is sometimes corrected to Savan, or the hyphen is not accepted by online forms, and that irks me. Even in India, my name gets corrected to ‘Sawan,’ and it’s not just an English issue. It’s a multi-language thing.”

I’m not a Dorito. Dhruti Shah, a journalist affected by the problem, joined the campaign. Autocorrect often gets her name wrong and changes it to “Dirty” or “Dorito.” As she notes, her name isn’t that long, and with this problem, “it’s like saying that it’s not just your name that’s wrong, but you are.”

“I am not a typo.” All that frustration with autocorrect has led to the launch of the “I am not a typo” campaign, a protest against the autocorrect systems used by  technology companies. Between 2017 and 2021, 2,328 people in the UK were born and named Esmae, while only 36 were named Nigel. Autocorrect corrects and changes Esmae to Admar, but Nigel is neither corrected nor altered.

Damn autocorrect. Campaigners say that four in 10 children born in England and Wales in 2021 had names that were “wrong” or not accepted when checked against Microsoft’s English dictionary.

Reliance on the wrong technology. Professor Rashmi Dyal-Chand at Northeastern University in the U.S. is another victim. Software often changes her name to Sashimi. In a study she published on the subject, Dyal-Chand concluded that these autocorrection programs use dictionaries that “help some of its users to communicate seamlessly at the expense of others who cannot.”

“Autocorrect is western- and white-focused.” Gandecha explained that the problem lies with Western technology companies, which only accept the conventional names of Caucasian people. “There are so many diverse names in the global majority but autocorrect is western- and white-focused.

Image | I am not a typo

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