The Unintended Consequences of Autocorrect

Clarity Innovation

AutoCorrectThe idea of adhering to electronic communication etiquette, in emails and social media posts, has been around a long time. And just in case we’ve forgotten, the example of the emails of Sony executives being aired out in public is still pretty fresh. The lesson is pretty clear: even if you intend the communication to be private, never put anything in an email that you wouldn’t want publicly published. The same goes for posts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other social media outlets.

Now, in addition to what you are intentionally writing, you have to pay attention to your unintentional writing as well, as in the autocomplete features in Facebook, messaging apps and Twitter, so they don’t turn an autocorrection into what’s become known as an autofail. Frequently used abbreviations and acronyms common to your industry can become embarrassing mistakes when an app’s autocorrect assumes what you want to say.

According to a recent New York Times article, autocorrect features are becoming personalized; the more you use an app, the more the app learns your unique style. Even though some tech companies claim that their operating systems can differentiate between how you communicate with friends through texts (casual) and with your boss over email (businesslike), you shouldn’t let your communication software drive your messages. If you don’t pay attention, in more formal exchanges, say a response to your boss—or your mother-in-law—you can make some really big blunders if you take your eye off the screen and let your software do the writing.

The bottom line: always look again before you push send!

Take Away: With electronic communication you have to not only pay attention to what you intentionally write, but also to how autocorrect might change it.

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