Google Docs’ New Voice Typing Feature Forces You to Speak No Evil

Google added a new hands-free typing feature to its online office suite last week, one which won’t be of much use to potty mouths.

Blogger Gretchen McCulloch thinks the word recognition tech works great, but she has also discovered that certain language makes Google uncomfortable:

It’s pretty good, actually — it recognized both pronunciations of “gif” and “aunt” in the contexts “animated ___” and “uncle and ___” although it tended to assume that I might have the bit/bet merger, which I most emphatically do not, and thus presented me with a few transcriptions that felt like odd candidates to me.

But then I tried swearwords and hit the fucking jackpot. Here’s a screenshot of what I got:

google-docs-censors-swearwords

Yes, Google has the sensibilities of a Sunday school teacher, albeit a literate one.

As you can see, some swear words made it through, but not others, and one commenter on McCulloch’s blog had a good explanation as to why. All the unfiltered words have alternate meanings (cock:rooster, tit:bird, ass:donkey, bitch:female dog, etc).

That’s not exactly a great reason to only allow certain words through, but it is still a better method that the one that Clean Reader is using. That app debuted earlier this year with an (optional) prudish word replacement filter. It caused a huge uproar, leading to the ebookstore getting pulled from the app, but surprisingly did not lead to the app being disabled. The app is still around, and it still works (it was just updated last week).

Unfortunately, the new Google Docs filter can’t be turned off at this time.

This is not the first time that the ad network has decided to wash your mouth out with soap. The Google voice function on Android has a similar filter. It could be toggled on or off in the settings menu, but I can’t find any similar option for the new Google Docs filter.

image by yoshiffles via Flickr

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

3 Comments

  1. R6 September, 2015

    Maybe one day Google won’t allow you save your document if it contains these words.

    I suddenly think of many mainland Chinese website. Some “sensitive” words are being checked before you submit a reply or a blog post etc. If your writing contains one or more “sensitive” words, you cannot submit the whole thing.

    Reply
  2. Byrdie7 September, 2015

    Dear Google:
    Please perform an act of auto-fornication.
    Thank you kindly,
    The Internet

    Reply
  3. […] say to its apps.  Back in 2015 Google launched a speech recognition feature for Google Docs which included a mandatory profanity filter. That filter replaced the characters of a banned word with asterisks. It cannot be disabled, and in […]

    Reply

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