Facebook’s Peculiar Foreign Language Options May Offend
TechCrunch reader Lane Woolf has brought to our attention a possibly offensive Languages option on Facebook Profiles (Edit profile > Languages > Type in the first three letters). While the first reports on Twitter about being able to set your profile language to “Nigga Slang” come from two days ago, complaints have come to a head today, on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
This is not intentional on Facebook’s part. A source familiar with the matter tells us that the language choices on profiles are user-generated, and that the Languages field lists all languages that more than a certain amount of users have entered. What’s probably going on here is that a group of people got together and set their language to “Nigga Slang” in order to cause it to appear as a choice, possibly coinciding with the holiday.
The word “nigga” is often embraced by as a sign of empowerment by African American youth and hip hop culture. But many still can’t shake the fact that it has evolved out of and is gradations away from the offensive racial slur “nigger” and still carries some of same connotations. The controversy over appropriate usage and context continues to this day (see below).
As this is a thorny issue and users are up in arms, one solution here for Facebook is either to ban certain words or assert more control over which choices become auto-generated options, keeping innocuous ones like “Minnesota Viking” and getting rid of dubious ones like “i speak bitch fluently (:” orÂ Â ”This is America, I speak American.”
I’ve let Facebook know that this is happening, and will update this post when I hear back.