Facebook Apologies: Mistranslation of China’s President Name

mistranslation of china’s president name

The translation of Burmese to English had reflected Facebook with heavy criticism as the name of china’s president got mistranslated into the faulty name.

Sometimes the blind and careless translation leads one to face awkward situations. For this, Facebook had faced condemnation recently after it mistranslated the name of Chinese leader Xi Jinping as “Mr. Shithole”.

This had happened because each time the name Jinping appeared in Burmese posts on the social media platform, the name automatically changed to “Mr. Shithole” in English.

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

The things got highlighted when in a statement about the visit was published on Suu Kyi’s official Facebook page was plagued with references to “Mr. Shithole” when itself got translated to English, while a headline officially appeared in local news journal as “Dinner honors president shithole”.

Facebook immediately apologized on Saturday for the incident, blaming a technical error for the unintentional offensiveness.

Though it is not known still about its consequences Google’s translation function did not show the same error as it was depicted on Facebook.

Facebook had apologized for the same and said that they had fixed a technical issue that will not cause any incorrect translations from Burmese to English on Facebook. For future safety measures, they are taking technical measures carefully in order to ensure non-repetition of such mistakes.

Facebook said in a statement that they sincerely apologize for the offense which has caused. The Facebook system was lacking President Xi Jinping’s name in its Burmese database and did the self guess on translation. Translation tests of similar words that started with “xi” and “shi” in Burmese also produced “shithole”, claimed by Facebook.

China’s Reaction on the Facebook Gaffe

China’s foreign ministry had declined the comment of Facebook and had blocked in mainland China. But still, Facebook is working in Hong Kong. Mainland companies have stopped advertising on Facebook and get it done on some other social platform. But, Facebook has made China the biggest kingdom for income after the United States. Facebook is now setting up a new engineering team to focus specifically on the profitable Chinese advertising business.

Error not the first time

It is not that Facebook has created such mistakes for the first time; rather it has faced numerous problems with translation from Burmese in the past also. In 2018 it had temporarily removed the function after a Reuters report showed the tool was producing strange results.

An investigation was also documented that how the company was failing in its efforts to fight venomous 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”.

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