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Words like “gay” and “lesbian” censored by Disney’s text-to-speech TikTok voices
TikTokers have shown that Disney's text-to-speech TikTok voice, which is supposed to sound like Rocket the Raccoon, refuses to read out loud words like "gay," "lesbian," or "queer."

TikTok has shown that Disney’s text-to-speech TikTok voice, which is supposed to sound like Rocket the Raccoon, refuses to read out loud words like” gay,” lesbian,” or”queer.”This decision appears to have been reversed-you can now have the voice read those lines out loud, but it’s unclear why. The shift, though, is recent The Verge reported that the voice-first refused to pronounce the phrases, but it did so minutes later in a subsequent test on Monday afternoon. TikTok hasn’t said why this happened, but videos that were made to draw attention to the problem still have the text blanked out.
As part of a Disney Plus Day promotion last week, Rocket’s voice was added to TikTok’s text-to-speech feature. Other voices, such as C-3PO and Stitch from Lilo and Stitch, are expected to be included in the promotion, but unlike Rocket’s, they must be unlocked using hidden phrases. Before the alteration, Rocket’s voice would pass over the expressions described above (but not words like”transgender” or”bisexual”), though phonetically analogous misspellings like”qweer” could fluently be used to get the character to utter it. Nevertheless, explicitly restricting language about gay identities appears to be a step that neither corporation would normally do in 2021. It’s unknown what urged them to do so in the first place, or why they changed their minds. Attempts to reach Disney and TikTok for comment were met with silence.
It’s always possible that this was done with the best of intentions if not the best of intentions – bullies have long used the terms gay and lesbian to humiliate those who do not identify as such. It’s difficult to think of a more successful bullying method than physically blocking queer people from discussing their identities. While it’s understandable that Disney wouldn’t want its characters’ voices reading effects like serious swears or slurs (though it’s worth noting that Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy uses expressions like” jackass” and”douchebag”), we have long passed the point where labeling LGBTQ people’s identities as antithetical to family values are acceptable. While it’s positive that this decision has been reversed (though it’s unclear why or by whom), it should not have been taken in the first place.
Numerous families, especially those with children in Disney’s target audience, contain gay people who would want to use TikTok’s text-to-speech capability to communicate about their lives and experiences.



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