Social media giant Facebook has apologized for an “error” that incorrectly translated Chinese dictator Xi Jinping’s name to mean “Mr. Shithole.”
Business Insider reports that social media giant Facebook apologized on Saturday for a mistranslation of Chinese dictator Xi Jinping’s name to “Mr. Shithole” in posts on the site translated from Burmese to English. The mistranslation was reportedly first noticed in a post by Myanmar’s State Counselor Office page which discussed a meeting between Aung San Suu Kyi and Xi.
When the post by the State Counselor Office page was translated from Burmese to English, it referred to Xi as “Mr. Shithole” multiple times. Reuters Myanmar bureau chief Poppy McPherson noted this in a tweet:
Umm. Facebook seems to be translating “Xi Jinping” written in Burmese as “Mr Shithole”.
This is a post on Aung San Suu Kyi’s official page, recounting her meeting with him yesterday… h/t @felizysolo
”kingdom of Mr Shithole” pic.twitter.com/B4V2cYjPJw
— Poppy McPherson (@poppymcp) January 18, 2020
At the time, Reuters reported that the Google translation of the post did not return the same error. Facebook has since apologized for the issue calling it a “technical error.” The company told Reuters in a statement:
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 apologize for the offense this has caused.
Facebook reportedly did not have Xi Jinping’s name in its database which resulted in Facebook’s translation system attempting to guess what the Chinese leader’s name may translate to in English. Similar tests performed in Burmese on words that begin with “xi” and “shi” also produced the English translation of “shithole.”