Microsoft Word has rolled out a new ‘inclusiveness checker’ that highlights phrases or words that may cause offence to people based on their gender, age, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Critics have branded the new feature a ‘woke filter,’ as Fox News host Brian Kilmeade complained that “political correctness has now gotten into our laptop, our keyboard, our phone – it’s scary”. Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy told Fox News that the tool was Orwellian and “reveals the political agenda at work here”.
The political correctness tool is intended to help users make their writing more “inclusive”.
In the latest update of Word, a purple line appears under words that the software deems might “imply bias” and offers alternatives.
Mr Ramaswamy, who is the author of the book Woke Inc, said: “Orwell said it best, the way to control a society is to control its language.
“Microsoft hasn’t been in the limelight before for its woke orthodoxy but now they are using the same tools they use for spelling errors but to correct for political correctness.”
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He pointed to Neil Armstrong’s famous Moon-landing quote – “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” – as something that Word will now highlight as offensive.
Mr Ramaswamy insisted that you “cannot correct facts” like the famous astronaut’s quote.
He added: “It’s a mechanism of mind control.”
Fox News host Brian Kilmeade said: “There are more than 250 million Microsoft users and now they will be corrected if they are not using woke terms.
The new tool is in addition to Word’s spelling and grammar-checking and can be switched off.
Some examples include changing ‘blacklist’ and ‘whitelist’ to ‘accepted’ or ‘allowed list,’ or swapping the gender-specific ‘postman’ with ‘postal worker’.
Similarly, ‘humanity’ or ‘humankind’ is recommended to replace ‘mankind,’ while ‘expert’ is suggested when the software flags ‘master,’ a term linked with slavery.
Microsoft says the goal isn’t to “correct all of society’s issues” but to make people consider more inclusive ways of writing.