Racist online communities have developed a new code for racial, homophobic, and bigoted slurs in an attempt avoid censorship.
The code, which uses terms like "Google," "Skittle," and "Yahoo" as substitutes for offensive words describing black people, Muslims, and Mexicans, appears to be in use by various accounts on Twitter and elsewhere.
Many tweets using the code are doing so in support of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump:
The code appears to have originated in response to Google's Jigsaw program, a new AI-powered approach to combating harassment and abuse online. The program seems to have inspired members of the online message board 4chan to start "Operation Google," using "Google" as a derogatory term for a black person in an attempt to get Google to filter out its own name. The code developed from there.
It appears that a number of 4chan posts in which this effort was discussed were deleted. A search of a 4chan archive, 4plebs, cross-referenced with Google search, showed the discussion developing underneath a link to a post about Google Jigsaw:
Some referenced Microsoft's AI-powered chatbot, Tay, as an example of how AI can be manipulated by racists.
And a "Skype" for "Jew" substitution emerged too:
This isn't the first time a bigoted social media code has emerged. Placing a name in triple parenthesis is meant to identify Jews and target them for harassment.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Google and Twitter for comment.
Alex Kantrowitz is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco. He reports on social and communications.
Contact Alex Kantrowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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