Google Translate Program Now Uses 'Undocumented' Instead of 'Illegal Immigrant' After Pressure from Latino Activists
Google Translate, the free online translator the company offers, now translates the Spanish word "indocumentado" to "undocumented immigrant" instead of "illegal immigrant" or "illegal migrant" after pressure from Hispanic activists and journalists.
According to a writer at ABC/Univision, "a free service provided by Google was incorrectly translating the Spanish term for 'undocumented' to 'illegal immigrant'" until Tuesday evening.
Google Translate reportedly took headlines that included "indocumentado" "from Spanish-language news sites" and translated the word to "illegal immigrant" in the English translations.
At least ten stories, as of Wednesday, are now translating "indocumentado" to "undocumented," according to Fusion, which is described as a joint venture between ABC and Univision.
The author of the report, Jorge Rivas, said he "initially raised the issue to Google representatives in an open letter published on Monday."
"The company issued a statement explaining translations are automatic and based on algorithms that index 'translated text that already exists on the web,'" Rivas wrote. "Google took no responsibility and said they had no plans for human intervention to update the translation."
Rivas wrote that, "When contacted Tuesday evening, Google would not confirm if the updated accurate translations are a result of an engineer updating the algorithms," only saying that the company appreciated feedback from its users.
Hugo Balta, the president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), said Google was "irresponsible" for not changing its algorithm.
"For them to not to understand or be receptive to the fact that undocumented is not the same as illegal, regardless of how their system is generating that answer, is irresponsible," he told ABC/Univision.
The NAHJ has led efforts to get news organizations to drop the term "illegal immigrants" and, as a result of their pressure campaigns, "news publications including the Associated Press, New York Times, L.A. Times, and networks like ABC News and CNN" now have "explicit guidelines for journalist[s] to avoid the term"