Rise of the bots

Twitter bot will correct you for using wrong pronouns when referring to Caitlyn Jenner

She not he Twitter feed
Twitter

Unsure of what pronoun to use when referring to Caitlyn Jenner, or just really used to referring to her as “him?” Well, there’s a bot designed to address just that problem. Within hours of Caitlyn Jenner’s big reveal on Monday, an automated Twitter bot surfaced to gently correct people who use an incorrect pronoun when referring to Jenner on the social media platform. The bot, named, @she_not_he, links out to the GLAAD website in its bio section and offered a caveat in its original bio description: “I am a bot politely correcting Twitter users who misgender Caitlyn Jenner in their tweets. I might make mistakes reading your tweet!! I’m only human. (Not.)” TIME points out that examples of corrections the bot made on Twitter show it’s ‘rather polite and — has a sense of humor.”

But it turns out that there are two real-life humans behind the Twitter feed after all. The bio section of the Twitter account was updated Tuesday to show that Washington Post editor Caitlin Dewey and Andrew McGill, a graphics director at the National Journal, are operating the Twitter feed. In a tweet on Tuesday, Dewey outed the pair as having created the bot, and McGill shared the piece of code that keeps the bot running in a subsequent Tweet.

And in an article on The Washington Post’s blog “The Intersect,” Dewey explained that the inspiration behind the clever Twitter bot was a tweet posted by The Associated Press on Monday in the moments after news of the Vanity Fair cover broke. The AP had misidentified Jenner as a “he” and then quickly deleted the tweet.

“‘Misgendering,’ as this practice is known is the LGBT community, isn’t just a style error in violation of AP’s own rules — it’s a stubborn, long-time hurdle to transgender acceptance and equality, a fundamental refusal to afford those people even basic grammatical dignity,” Dewey wrote. “In fact, almost any time a transgender person is in the news, online errors like this run rampant. And because I cover the Internet, which is nothing if not a merry-go-round of cyclical hysteria, I knew that with Jenner, it would happen again.”

Read the full story at TIME and The Washington Post.

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