Facebook apologises after vulgar translation of Chinese leader's name

By Poppy McPherson YANGON (Reuters) - Facebook Inc said on Saturday it was working to find out how Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s name appeared as “Mr Shithole” in posts on its platform when translated into English from Burmese, apologising for any offence caused and saying the problem had been fixed.

Reuters January 19, 2020 00:10:09 IST
Facebook apologises after vulgar translation of Chinese leader's name

Facebook apologises after vulgar translation of Chinese leaders name

By Poppy McPherson

YANGON (Reuters) - Facebook Inc said on Saturday it was working to find out how Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s name appeared as “Mr Shithole” in posts on its platform when translated into English from Burmese, apologising for any offence caused and saying the problem had been fixed.

The error came to light on the second day of a visit by the president to the Southeast Asian country, where Xi and state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi signed dozens of agreements covering massive Beijing-backed infrastructure plans.

A statement about the visit published on Suu Kyi’s official Facebook page was littered with references to “Mr Shithole” when translated to English, while a headline in local news journal the Irrawaddy appeared as “Dinner honors president shithole”.

It was not clear how long the issue had lasted but Google’s translation function did not show the same error.

"We have fixed an issue regarding Burmese to English translations on Facebook and are working to identify the cause to ensure that it doesn’t happen again," Facebook said in a statement. "This issue is not a reflection of the way our products should work and we sincerely apologise for the offence this has caused."

China is Facebook’s biggest country for revenue after the United States, and the tech company is setting up a new engineering team to focus specifically on the lucrative advertising business there, Reuters reported last week.

“We are aware of an issue regarding Burmese to English translations on Facebook, and we’re doing everything we can to fix this as quickly as possible,” a spokesperson for the tech company said in a statement.

“This issue is not a reflection of the way our products should work and we sincerely apologise for the offence this has caused.”

Facebook has faced numerous problems with translation from Burmese in the past. In 2018 it temporarily removed the function after a Reuters report showed the tool was producing bizarre results.

An investigation documented how the company was failing in its efforts to combat vitriolic Burmese language posts about Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, some 730,000 of whom fled a military crackdown in 2017 that the U.N has said was conducted with “genocidal intent”.

It also showed the translation feature was flawed, citing an anti-Rohingya post advocating killing Muslims that was translated into English as “I shouldn’t have a rainbow in Myanmar”.

(Reporting by Poppy Elena McPherson; Editing by Nick Macfie)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.