Facebook has blamed a “technical error” after it translated the name of China’s President Xi Jinping as “Mr S***hole”.
The error occurred during Mr Xi’s state visit to Myanmar last week when Facebook users translated Burmese into English.
The social media giant appears to have disabled Burmese to English translations following the gaffe.
Image: Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) met Myanmar President Win Myint last week
A spokesperson for Facebook said: “We fixed a technical issue that caused incorrect translations from Burmese to English on Facebook.
“This should not have happened and we are taking steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
The error was apparently caused by Facebook’s automated translation software, which guesses the correct word to translate when it does not recognise a foreign word.
The company explained that its translation software guesses words based on their syllables when it does not understand what the direct translation is.
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Facebook claimed that in similar tests of words which began with the syllables “xi” and “shi” in Burmese the same profanity was translated into English.
The error over Mr Xi’s name came after staff failed to add the Chinese leader’s name to a “whitelist” of known words.
The incident is not the first time Facebook has faced problems with its handling of Burmese, which is spoken by the majority of people in Myanmar.
In 2018, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg told US politicians that the company’s lack of Burmese-language specialists prevented its moderators from quickly detecting posts dehumanising the Rohingya minority and inciting violence.
Facebook admitted failing to do enough to prevent users inciting violence against Myanmar’s minority Rohingya population following an independent assessment of its service’s impact on human rights.
Source : Sky News