Did You Know the Amazon Fire Has a Secret Profanity Filter That Blocks George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words?

Remember how everyone used to make fun of Apple because iOS had a puritanical keyboard filter that automatically corrected “fuck” to duck”?

Get ready to snicker at Amazon.

I was browsing Twitter this morning on my Fire HD 8 (2018) when I discovered that Amazon has a profanity filter built into the tablet. I was about to use a swear word in a tweet when the Fire abruptly deleted the sentence. I tried to re-enter the sentence when the same thing happened again.

For reasons beyond my understanding, Amazon has secretly built a profanity filter into the Fire.

To be more exact, the speech recognition part of the Fire’s keyboard app has a list of words that it will not accept. You can type these words on the onscreen keyboard, but if you try to _say_ them then the app will delete the entire sentence.

Yes, it is just the speech recognition, and yes, it is the keyboard app, and not Twitter. I can confirm that I saw the same behavior in the Silk web browser.

This piqued my interest, so I spent some time seeing what else was caught in Amazon’s secret profanity filter. So far I have found that Amazon blocks six of George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words. The list of censored words includes (but is not limited to):

  • asshole
  • shit
  • fuck
  • cunt
  • cocksucker
  • motherfucker
  • tits

Piss and Hell make it through the filter but they are also essentially blocked in that they are autocorrected to benign words this and hello.

And what’s even funnier is that bitch, titty, and ass made it through the profanity filter, making this a particularly inept filter.

I am sure there are other words blocked by Amazon’s puritanical filter, but I have not found them yet. I was also unable to find anyway to disable or enable the filter in the Fire’s settings menu (hence why I called it a secret). And no, I do not have any kids accounts on my Fire; there is just the one account (mine).

Amazon is far from the first to censor what you can 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 fact it’s still there (I tested it a few minutes ago).

Coincidentally, Google also has a similar spoken word profanity filter on Android. Like the filter on Google Docs, the Android profanity filter replaces the characters of a banned word with asterisks.

What is up with companies’ limiting what you can say but not what you can type?

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.

10 Comments

  1. Richard Hershberger13 July, 2020

    Blocking “Hell” is the most absurd, prohibiting as it does more than one Christian creed.

    Reply
  2. Disgusting Dude13 July, 2020

    How are your parental controls set?
    Just curious if tgey make a difference.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder13 July, 2020

      They are not enabled – none of them!

      Reply
      1. Disgusting Dude13 July, 2020

        So you’re working with the default all ages settings.
        Have you considered an adult account might be more permissive when the controls are active?
        Too sophisticated for that kind of app?

        Reply
  3. Xavier Basora13 July, 2020

    Nate

    It’s part of wholeness. Remember those words trigger asthey”re rheterosexisrsracistoldfashioned.

    xavier

    Reply
    1. Sean Kurth14 July, 2020

      Ironically, the “hetero sexist racist old fashioned” people are the ones most offended by swearing. But retirees can barely figure out how to get to Facebook on their Kindle Fire, they’re certainly not going to try speaking words swear or otherwise into it, so I don’t really see the point of this. Also, how many Southern Baptists could possibly be buying Amazon products at all since Trump turned on Bezos? This really strikes me as a completely pointless, hypocritical act of puritanism from a man who unrepentantly cheated on his wife, just like 99% of the “moral” people it’s supposed to appease. Say the f-word all you want, I say it way too much, what I care about is being a good person. And most of the worst people I know, the ones who beat their wife and kids, treat service workers as subhuman, go 25+ over the speed limit with no turn signals, and never give “borrowed” things back, are the ones who most pretend to be outraged by things like swearing, violent video games, and sexy magazine models. It’s these societally irrelevant surface moral issues, such as swearing, gay marriage, sex before marriage (most people who say they didn’t are liars), that allow people to virtue-signal and evade suspicion as they do much worse stuff. And what’s weird is that large segments of the left are now buying into it in the form of “trigger warnings.”

      Reply
      1. Disgusting Dude14 July, 2020

        Tipper Gore.

        Reply
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  6. […] Someone from the Digital Reader was browsing Twitter on his Kindle Fire HD when he wanted to tweet something out that had a curse word. But his keyboard app, more specifically the speech recognition feature of it, deleted the sentence. And even when he tried to repeat that sentence, it once again deleted it. He became curious and so tried to explore it more and discovered the “secret” profanity filter. […]

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