A Seattle woman is accusing Western Washington’s primary energy provider, Puget Sound Energy, of intentionally allowing its automated computer-generated temporary password system to send a racial slur.
Erica Conway believes the insult was deliberate and wants the company to get to the bottom of it.
“I clicked “forgot password” and got a temporary password from PSE and it was capitol N-I-G-G-A and I was quite shocked.”
“It was like an emotional roller coaster. Shock, disbelief, disgusted, angry. It was just yeah, even now I’m just kind of like I cannot believe this. I just can’t believe it.”
Conway is a longtime volunteer of the Seattle chapter of the NAACP.
She showed us past temporary passcodes that were just random letters and numbers, so she believes this passcode slur was created deliberately.
“I was truly in disbelief. Because this is not normal, and this is not what a temporary password is supposed to say.”
A temporary password isn’t meant to say anything. As Conway, who is black, even states herself, the passwords are a randomly generated mixture of letters and numbers. A fact PSE reiterated even as its spokeswoman apologized for the incident.
PSE spokeswoman Janet Kim responded, “This was offensive, there was no question about that, we apologize to this customer, the community, for what has happened, and we are trying to do what we can to make it right.”
PSE insists the slur was a computer-generated mistake.
“These passwords are generated automatically so they go straight from the system straight to the customers. So, it’s not able to be accessed by an employee.”
Whatever happened to understanding that sometimes flukes happen and the appropriate and the best response isn’t to hie off in self-righteous indignation and outrage demanding more than an apology on behalf of a computer program.
Despite PSE’s apology, Conway insists she wants to waste people’s time with a sit-down meeting with the company, along with someone from the NAACP. Knowing corporate crisis management these days, she’ll probably get what she wants.
If so, it’s a perfect example of how we’ve ended up at the level of outrage culture we’re in, because every little thing gets met with disproportional demands that all too often get granted if not outright indulged.