iFlytek Censors Politically-Sensitive Phrases In Its Translation App

Parvati Divakar - Dec 01, 2018


iFlytek Censors Politically-Sensitive Phrases In Its Translation App

A translation app which is widely used in China has to strictly censor their content platform to abid with China's strict Internet regulations.

The iFlyTranslate app is regulating their content in the context that China government launched "another crackdown" on the internet which is called the clean-up campaign, according to the report. One of the most popular translation apps in China called iFlytek has recently made various moves to carry out content censoring on their Android Platform. To be more specific, the app will refuse to translate political related sensitive terms, such as “Tiananmen” or “ Taiwan independence.”

A software engineer called Jane Manchun Wong, wrote in a Twitter post accompanying a photo, which we posted below. The picture shows that the system was unable to determine the results for sensitive terms or names.

For example, when terms like "Tiananmen Square", "Taiwan independence" and "Tiananmen Square massacre" are translated from English to Chinese, the system failed to produce correct results. Meanwhile, the term "Taiwan independence was translated from Chinese to English, the translated version was an asterisk.

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Jane Manchun Wong tweet

iFlytek has removed phrases such as "Taiwan independence," "Tiananmen Square" and "Tiananmen Square massacre" from its Android platform, partly as an effort to avoid sensitive subjects such as religion, culture, and politics.

Other tests also have similar findings. It is notable that the app also refuses to translate "Xi Jinping", the name of the Chinese President. According to Cnet, when you translate the text which contains "Xi Jinping" from English to Chinese or vice versa, the app refused to appear. iFlytek even refuses to repeat this phrase.

Surprisingly, "Winnie the Pooh" is one of those forbidden phrases. Reports suggest that the removal of this Disney character's name is because of its comparison with Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s appearance, which is understandable.

Nonetheless, iFly Translate app’s iOS version can answer the query on all of those forbidden phrases, according to the tests conducted on the two platforms.

More and more Chinese tech company now have to clamp down on their content, especially in the context of keeping the Internet under strict control by government censors.

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