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07/30/2015 05:54 pm ET

This Twitter Bot Will Correct You If You Use 'Illegal Immigrant'

And some people sure are mad about it.
A new Twitter bot will call you out if you use the term "illegal immigrant" in a tweet.
Credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images
A new Twitter bot will call you out if you use the term "illegal immigrant" in a tweet.

People aren't illegal. And now, there's a bot to remind the world of that.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump, who recently labeled undocumented immigrants "rapists," is a prime example of the disrespectful discourse that surfaces around the issue of immigration, especially on social media. That's why two reporters with Fusion developed a Twitter bot to call out people using the term "illegal immigrant."

Patrick Hogan and Jorge Rivas created an automated Twitter account, @DroptheIBot, that detects tweets using the term and responds to users directly. 

In a piece for Fusion, the bot's creators said developing it was "a modest effort to help America shed some of its historical baggage." They noted that a slew of media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press, have asked their writers to stop using the offensive phrasing.

"The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term 'illegal immigrant' or the use of 'illegal' to describe a person. Instead, it tells users that 'illegal' should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally," Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of the AP, wrote when the organization changed its stance.

The bot's language echoes the distinction that although actions can be illegal, humans can't. The account goes by the moniker "'Drop the I' Bot" in reference to a similarly themed campaign called "Drop the I word," which was launched in 2010 with the aim of ending the incorrect and racially charged use of the word "illegal" when linked to immigrants.

More than 600 tweets have been sent out by the bot over the past few days. Some Twitter users have fired back, defending their language.

Hogan and Rivas noted that ongoing crimes and prejudice directed at immigrants show America still has a lot of work to do when it comes to treating immigrants with respect.

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