Facebook Says 'sorry', Blames 'tech Glitch' For Vulgar Translation Of Xi Jinping's Name

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In a massive translation error, Xi Jinping's name was translated to 'shithole' in Burmese language by Facebook's algorithm for which Facebook apologized later

Written By Pritesh Kamath | Mumbai | Updated On:

Popular social media giant Facebook made a gigantic blunder during the historic visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Myanmar. In a massive translation error, Xi Jinping's name was translated to the offensive term "sh****le" in the Burmese language by Facebook's translation algorithm. Facebook which has been in controversies in the past had to again apologise for the translation error and blamed it on a technical glitch.

The error most notably appeared on the official Facebook page of Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. "Mr. Sh****le, President of China arrives at 4 PM," said a translated statement posted earlier on Saturday. "President of China, Mr. Sh****le, signed a guest record of the house of representatives," it continued.

The Chinese President was on a two-day visit to Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw. The visit was given a lot of prominence as it was the first visit by a Chinese leader in almost two decades. 

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Facebook issues apology

Facebook reportedly apologised for the technical glitch adding that the issue has been resolved.

"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. We sincerely apologise for the offense this has caused," a Facebook spokesperson said as quoted by international media.

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Similar words translated to the same vulgar term

Facebook in its defence has said that its system did not have a Burmese translation for the word 'Xi'. Hence the system ended up making guesses and replaced with words having similar syllables. The company tested similar words in Burmese, and other words that start with 'xi' and 'shi' in Burmese, which uses the same character, were also translated to the same vulgar word, Facebook said.

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The nation is in nascent stages of adopting technology and Facebook has become a popular medium of communication in Myanmar. The platform is the most popular site for news, entertainment, and chatting, many even see it as synonymous with the internet.

Much like Twitter in India and other advanced countries, Facebook is used as a medium for making official statements and announcements by politicians and government in Myanmar. However, the social media platform is restricted in China.

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