WeChat translates ‘black foreigner’ into secular slur

A design painting shows a WeChat app idol in Beijing, Dec 5, 2013.Image copyright

Image caption

WeChat is one of China’s many renouned apps

Chinese messaging app WeChat has apologised after a program used a N-word as an English interpretation for a Chinese for “black foreigner”.

The association blamed a algorithms for producing a error.

It was speckled by Ann James, a black American vital in Shanghai, when she texted her Chinese colleagues to contend she was using late.

Ms James, who uses WeChat’s interpretation underline to review Chinese responses, got a reply: “The [racial slur] is late.”

Horrified, she checked a Chinese word – “hei laowai” – with a co-worker and was told it was a neutral expression, not a profanity.

WeChat concurred a blunder to China-focused news site Sixth Tone, saying: “We’re really contemptible for a inapt translation. After receiving users’ feedback, we immediately bound a problem.”

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The app’s program uses synthetic comprehension that has been fed outrageous reams of content to assistance it collect a best translations.

These are formed on context, so it infrequently uses scornful phrases when articulate about disastrous events.

Local opening That’s Shanghai tested a app, and found that when used to wish someone happy birthday, a word “hei laowai” was translated as “black foreigner”. But when a judgment enclosed disastrous difference like “late” or “lazy,” it constructed a extremist insult.

Almost a billion people use WeChat, that lets users play games, emporium online, and compensate for things as good as promulgation messages. It resembles another renouned discuss app, WhatsApp, though is theme to censorship.

A investigate organisation during a University of Toronto analysed a terms blocked on WeChat in March, and found they enclosed “Free Tibet”, “Down with a Communist Party”, and many mentions of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, who was China’s many distinguished tellurian rights advocate.