Microsoft's GitHub is removing coding terms like 'master' and 'slave'

"It's a great idea and we are already working on this," said GitHub's CEO.

Shelby Brown Editor II
Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
  • She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
Shelby Brown
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GitHub tweeted its support for the Black Lives Matter movement. 


In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, GitHub, a Microsoft-owned company that provides hosting for software development, is working on removing coding terms like "master" and "slave." In programming, the term "master" can refer to a main version of a software project from which variations are created.

On Thursday, GitHub CEO Nat Friedman replied to a tweet from Una Kravets, director of product design at Bustle Digital Group, about the tech community taking steps to rename certain terms -- particularly, to switch that of the default branch structure from "master" to "main." 

"It's a great idea and we are already working on this," Friedman tweeted. 

In an email, a GitHub spokesperson confirmed that the site is changing the default branch name for new repositories away from "master," and making it easier for users to choose their own default branch name for all new repositories created. They also said they are releasing guidance and tools for users who may choose to rename their default branch in existing repositories.

GitHub on July 27 released notes for Git 2.28, confirming the name change from master to main.

GitHub's Twitter page posted that it stands with the black community and the fight against racism. In response, comments flooded in, demanding that the company terminate its contract with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The agency's actions of splitting up immigrant families at the US-Mexico border was widely condemned by tech companies. In June 2018, nearly 100 Github coders penned a letter to Microsoft saying they would leave the company unless the contract was dropped.

Watch this: Black Lives Matter: How you can take action today

Amid global protests in response to the deaths of black civilians like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and others, tech companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft have voiced the need for racial justice. Technologists are also looking at revising other terms like "whitelist" and "blacklist." It's also been suggested that "white hat" and "black hat" be replaced with "ethical" and "unethical." 

Black Lives Matter. Visit blacklivesmatter.carrd.co to learn how to donate, sign petitions and protest safely.