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MailChannels replaces racially insensitive terms in spam filtering configuration

By Ken Simpson | 2 minute read

While it may seem that nothing much changes from year to year, events periodically conspire to advance humanity in a new direction seemingly overnight. Consider George Floyd’s tragic death at the hands of Minneapolis police: Whether it’s the renaming of Washington’s football team, the taking-down of Confederate statues, or the rapid pace of legislation stripping police officers of qualified immunity, we cannot overstate this event’s impact on society – nor can we be silent in the face of it.

While the technology sector is well known to be progressive on social issues, we are not immune to systemic racism. In the weeks following George Floyd’s death, MailChannels has analyzed our policies, practices, and conventions and have identified an area where we believe we can and must make a change.

On the internet, the terms “blacklist” and “whitelist” have been used to refer to lists of entities you wish to block or permit. Whether in the context of a firewall or in your email inbox, the bad actors are on a “blacklist” while the good actors are on a “whitelist”. It’s frankly surprising to me that these terms remain in widespread use today: clearly it’s time for a change.

Therefore, effective today, MailChannels will now use the term “blocklist” to refer to the bad actors and “safelist” to refer to the good actors. And this change is comprehensive. The old, racist terms have been removed from our documentation and user interfaces, and we are committed to removing them from case studies, and other end user-facing resources and materials. We will even be removing these racist terms from our source code. To us, it’s important that racism be expunged everywhere, not just for the sake of our public image.

We hope that other email security providers will follow our lead by removing racist terms in their own user interfaces. I am encouraged by events throughout the technology industry and hope that this change can become widespread in the coming weeks.

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