UPDATE: WeChat Removes Offensive Translation, Apologizes

By That's, October 11, 2017

6 0

Earlier today, we told you about a disturbing translation discovery on WeChat, in which certain uses of the term "黑老外" ("hei laowai" or "black foreigner") returned the N-word, a deeply offensive racial epithet.

WeChat has since responded to the news, with a spokesperson telling Sixth Tone: "We’re very sorry for the inappropriate translation. After receiving users’ feedback, we immediately fixed the problem.”

A quick check of the phrases we tested earlier confirmed that the changes to the translations had indeed been made.

The spokesperson also said that the app uses neural machine translation, and noted that it's constantly being tweaked to provide "more accurate, faithful, expressive, and elegant” translation results.

As Sixth Tone points out, many modern translation apps use machine learning. But without a human filter, the artificial intelligence can sometimes let offensive slurs through, as was seen in 2016 when Twitter users taught an account to support Hitler.

“This is the way social change should happen," Shanghai-based theater producer Ann James said of WeChat’s swift rectification of the issue. James first brought the translation to our attention.

more news

You Can Now Scan-to-Translate on WeChat

WeChat continues to build upon their app with a new translation feature. Taking a picture is all it takes.

WeChat Launches New 'Floating Window' Feature

Thus begins a new era of social media multitasking.

Einstein's Travel Diaries Littered with Racism Towards Chinese People

Newly published diaries by Einstein reveal shocking racist attitudes towards Asians.

China Immigration Rejects WeChat Border-Cross Scheme

Could the 'scan-WeChat-to-cross-border' idea be dead before it even launched?

WeChat to Replace Travel Docs at Border Crossings, Tencent Says

Unfortunately, the scheme would only apply to mainland and Hong Kong citizens, according to the company.

Shanghai Residents Can Now Report Environmental Infractions Using WeChat

The newly-created WeChat account is called 12369 Environmental Protection tip-off.

English Teachers Caught Faking Qualifications in Beijing

Beware the consequences of improper training.

0 User Comments

In Case You Missed It…

We're on WeChat!

Scan our QR Code at right or follow us at thatsonline for events, guides, giveaways and much more!

7 Days in China With thatsmags.com

Weekly updates to your email inbox every Wednesday

Subscribe

Download previous issues

Never miss an issue of That's Magazines!

Visit the archives

Get the App. Your essential China city companion.