Autocorrect can destroy even the most beautifully crafted message, by just changing one word for another.
In Steph Harper’s case, it left her feeling rather red-faced after telling a government adviser that she’d been forced into prostitution.
She had meant to tell a Department for Work and Pensions advisor that she’d been forced into ‘a position’ – but predictive text drastically changed her message.
The 30-year-old was trying to send a message about Universal Credit as she was concerned about juggling work and looking after her son, seven, with no childcare options while schools were shut.
But she mistakenly said that she was ‘forced into a prostitution’ as she was now ‘unable to continue her work’ as a children’s party and entertainment coordinator.
Minutes later the red-faced mum-of-one realised her error and had to contact the advisor to clarify she hadn’t been forced into sex work.
In response, the employee admitted they were initially ‘very concerned’ when reading her first message and were relieved to see it was simply an autocorrect error.
Steph, from Gloucester, Gloucestershire, said: “It was a really stressful time for everybody.
“I was just worried about paying my rent and bills. I sent them a message in the journal asking about my Universal Credit payment and that’s when the auto-correct happened.
“I was writing on my phone, don’t know how it corrected ‘position’ to that, I was mortified when I saw what it had changed it to.
“I accidentally told Universal Credit I was a prostitute. When I pressed send I thought ‘I should re-read this back ‘and thank goodness that I did.
“I remember thinking ‘oh my god if they read that they’re going to think I’m admitting to being a prostitute’ which was definitely not the case.
“When I read the DWP’s reply I just laughed out loud, and I thought ‘well at least you were concerned about it’.”
Steph wrote in her journal at the end of March last year as Covid struck but shared her cringy typo this week, where it quickly went viral on Facebook.
The comment read, ‘I accidentally told Universal Credit I was a prostitute’ and racked up more than 4,300 likes, shares and comments.
Steph said: “This is my first auto-correct fail. I was really embarrassed but my friends and family found it hilarious.
“When I shared it online it just blew up from there. It’s good to see it’s given people a bit of a laugh.
“I’ve definitely learned my lesson. I triple check everything, even my work emails, all the time.”
In her message, Stephanie wrote: Good afternoon. With the school, my son attends being closed now for the foreseeable future due to the Coronavirus outbreak, and with no childcare options available to me.
“I am forced into a prostitution where I am now unable to continue my work from effect of Monday 23rd March 2020.
She then clarified: “I am ever so sorry, my last journal entry corrected my statement – I meant to say ‘in a position’, not the word ‘prostitution’.
“I am so sorry! Stephanie.”
A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) rep wrote: “Good Afternoon Stephanie,
“I was very concerned when I read your first message, so glad to see it was just an autocorrect mistake!
“Should your earnings be reduced your UC award will increase.
“The first £287.00 of your take-home pay doesn’t affect your Universal Credit monthly amount.