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Marks and Spencer sorry for automated filter that banned words 'gay' and 'Jesus Christ' from gift messages

BY LAMIAT SABIN

Marks and Spencer has apologised for banning the words ‘gay’ and ‘Jesus Christ’ from being used in personalised gift messages.

The retailer had refused to approve the words when a customer would type them in for a customised message to be included with a delivery of flowers.

If any banned words were used, a message would come up that said: “Sorry, there’s something in your message we can’t write.”

But now it appears that M&S allows the words. However, explicit words such as ‘f***’ and ‘b******’ are still prohibited.

In a statement to Pink News, the retailer said: “We apologise for any offence caused, it was certainly never our intention.

“An automatic phrase checker is in place to prevent the use and misuse of certain words and it includes hundreds of words of varying nature.”

Nutella recently came under fire for banning the words ‘Muslim’, ‘Jew’ and ‘lesbian’ in a personalised jar advertising campaign in France.

The company explained that an algorithm was designed to filter them out, including the words ‘palm oil’ – in reference to a controversial ingredient included in the chocolate spread.

Sports brand Adidas was also criticised last year when it banned the word ‘gay’ from customisable trainers, shortly after announcing Tom Daley – an Olympic diver who came out at the end of 2013 – as the new face of their NEO label.

A spokesperson from the brand said that the decision to ban words alluding to a person’s sexuality in order to prevent offensive phrases reflected “the sad reality of the society we live in”.

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