Google has promised to stop its Android phones from suggesting “my face” when its users text “sit on.”
Cory Doctorow came close to a disaster when he texted his kids’ babysitter, “Hey! Are you free to sit” and Android’s predictive text came up with “on my face.”
“Needless to say, I have never entered that string into my Android device,” he insisted in his tweet.
I was SMSing our babysitter with the default Android SMS app; I typed “Hey! Are you free to sit” and autocomplete came up with “on my face.” Needless to say, I have never entered that string into my Android device. (This is not a joke)
— son of an asylum seeker, father of an immigrant (@doctorow) July 27, 2018
Although Google has a list of over 1,400 words banned from its predictive text — including bizarre ones like “pizzle,” “lactation,” and “LSAT” — for some reason, the company doesn’t block the sexual act of “sit on my face” from its suggestions.
These Twitter users got the same lewd predictions.
In a statement to BuzzFeed, a Google spokesperson said that the company “started rolling out a fix” so that users will “no long have to see this suggestion” on Gboard.
The spokesperson added:
“Gboard is designed to avoid such predictions in its generic models, but human language is complex, and as with any sort of system that filters sensitive phrases, sometimes inappropriate suggestions make it through into the machine learning models. When we learn of an inappropriate suggestion we work quickly to remove it.”
According to Google, Gboard uses a “general language model” for all of its users, but it also employs a personalized algorithm to suggest phrases based on the users’ texting history.
if you’re using Gboard it has a habit of completing phrases used in Google searches.
— Morgan Gangwere (@indrora) July 27, 2018
You can remove certain phrases from suggestions by tapping on the word and dragging it to the trash. In Android’s Keyboard settings, you can also opt out of customized suggestions entirely.
Even though Doctorow said he’s never typed out “sit on my face before,” Google’s algorithm could suggest otherwise.