Google's new voice transcription censors swearing

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Last week Google made a back-to-school announcement that you can use Google Docs to write with your voice. But it seems that Google doesn't wants the school kids it's targeting to watch their language. Google will only transcribe PG-rated words.

Linguist Gretchen McCulloch tested out Google's new voice transcription feature and found that while it deftly navigated multiple pronunciations of "gif," Google was a little shy when it came to swearing.

McCulloch found that Google docs censored words like "fuck" and "shit" with asterisks, as well as that not-so-nice word for female private parts. I tested it myself and found the same thing:


I recommend recreating this experiment at home. It turns out that swearing into your computer microphone in the name of science is actually pretty fun.

Curiously, though, Google doesn't bleep out other words and phrases that might be interpreted as less-than-polite, like "bastard," "God dammit" and "bitch."

McCulloch also found that some of Google's censoring seemed arbitrary — for example, bleeping "asshole" but not "ass."

"Surely a sociology study could be written about such a distinction," McCulloch wrote.


I reached out to Google for some insight into the  bleeping, but haven't yet heard back. There doesn't appear to be any preference settings to let swear words through, so if you're a foul-mouthed writer, typing things the old-fashioned way may be your only hope.