UPDATE: WeChat Removes Offensive Translation, Apologizes

By That's, October 11, 2017

3 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

WeChat in Racism Storm, Translates 'Black Foreigner' into N-Word

WeChat is facing backlash over its translation software.

Popular Chinese Grocery App Launches English Version

Grocery shopping just got easier (read: lazier) with the launch of YiHaoDian’s English app.

10 Chinese Cities with the Best English

You'd be surprised which city tops the 2016 English Proficiency Index in China.

You Can Now Rent a Mobike Through WeChat Wallet

Mobike​ and Tencent made their relationship status official today with the bike-sharing app's debut in WeChat Wallet.

Chinese Telecom Companies to Get Rid of Roaming Fees

Say goodbye to those pesky roaming fees.

You Can Now Send Starbucks Drinks Over WeChat

Just in time for Valentine's Day!

0 User Comments

In Case You Missed It…

We're on WeChat!

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

7 Days in Shanghai With thatsmags.com

Weekly updates to your email inbox every Wednesday

Subscribe

Download previous issues

Never miss an issue of That's Shanghai!

Visit the archives

Get the App. Your essential China city companion.