Twitter adds “Arab (female)” option in campaign for greater diversity

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 Twitter on Tuesday introduced an “Arabic (feminine)” language setting, which allows the social network to speak to users using feminine grammar, part of what it sees as a push for inclusion and diversity.

“We want our service to reflect the voices that shape the conversations that take place on our service,” said Rasha Fawakhiri, Twitter’s director of communications for the Middle East and North Africa.

In Arabic, verbs agree with the gender of the subject. Masculine forms are used to address mixed or unknown audiences and are the default in most texts.

Twitter did not introduce a non-binary gender language option in Arabic, but Fawakhiri said the company has gender-neutral projects in the works for the site. He has plans to add a pronoun field to Twitter profiles so people can show how they prefer to be addressed.

Until now, the instruction to the user of Tweet in Arabic had appeared only in the masculine form “gharrid”. With a configuration change, this command can now appear on Twitter as “gharridi”, the feminine form.

Twitter says it is the first social network to introduce the “Arabic (female)” language option. Dubai-based global logistics company Aramex added a similar language option to its corporate website in April.

“We want to give people a choice of how they prefer to be treated,” he said.

Twitter started with Arabic and the initiative could expand to other languages, Fawakhiri said.

Last year, the company modified some of the language used by its engineers in its processes to make it more inclusive.

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