Twitter launches inclusive 'Arabic (feminine)' setting

Twitter launches 'Arabic (feminine)' setting to boost inclusivity
2 min read
16 June, 2021
Twitter claims such a setting has never before been implemented by a social network.
The 'Arabic (feminine)' setting is now selectable on Twitter [Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto/Getty]

Social media giant Twitter has launched a new offering for those wanting it to address them in the Arabic feminine form.

"Arabic (feminine)" was released on Tuesday to help boost inclusivity, Reuters reported.

San Francisco-based Twitter claims such a setting has never before been implemented by a social network, though Reuters said a delivery firm from the UAE, Aramex, made such a move in April.

It is now selectable on the site and transforms current usage.

While the Arabic language usually uses masculine grammar in cases of indeterminate gender, or when talking to groups containing different genders, enabling "Arabic (feminine)" changes this behaviour.

A male directive to tweet out a message, "gharrid", is transformed into the female, "gharridy".  

Twitter MENA comms chief Rasha Fawakhiri explained: "We want our service to reflect the voices that shape the conversations that take place on our service.

"We want to provide people with the option of how they prefer to be addressed".

However, Reuters highlighted that there is no non-binary Arabic setting.

Nevertheless, Fawakhiri noted that other initiatives in this space are in the pipeline. The organisation is looking to include a space on Twitter pages for gender pronouns, allowing users to indicate how others should refer to them.

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This latest language move follows a decision last year to alter terminology used by technical workers.

For instance, "they/them/their" pronouns were brought into use, while "master/slave" was dropped in favour of "leader/follower".

However, despite these attempts at improving representation, Twitter has previously come under fire for alleged censorship Palestinian voices, as have some other social networks.

Online rights group Access Now claimed: "Social media companies — like FB, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok — are censoring Palestinians as they face military violence and evictions from their homes."

The Twitter thread in which this suggestion was made refers to the Sheikh Jarrah families under threat of expulsion by Israel from occupied East Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media said it had "documented 55 cases of violations of Palestinian content on Twitter" in the 6 to 19 May period.

Of these, more than 9 in 10 pertained to "suspension of accounts".