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Facebook translates Chinese president Xi Jinping's name to 'Mr S***hole'

Anthony Cuthbertson
Chinese President Xi Jinping talks with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a 2015 meeting. Facebook is currently banned in China: Getty Images

Facebook has been forced to apologise after translating the name of Chinese president Xi Jinping to “Mr Sh*thole” for some users.

The error occurred on the official Facebook page of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, in a post that recounted her meeting with Mr Xi during his state visit to Myanmar.

Originally written in Burmese, Facebook’s translation into English referred to Mr Xi as “Mr Sh*thole” six separate times.

“Mr Sh*thole, President of China, arrives at 4pm,” the translation stated.

“Consultant Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is friendly. And the president of China, Mr Sh*thole, signed a guest record of the house of representatives.”

“We are aware of an issue regarding Burmese to English translations on Facebook, and we’re doing everything we can to fix this as quickly as possible,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Independent when first contacted about the error.

“This issue is not a reflection of the way our products should work and we sincerely apologise for the offence this has caused.”

The social network relies on human and automated moderators to fix incorrect content, as well as reports from its users. ​The issue was fixed after several hours and the spokesperson said Facebook is carrying out an investigation into the incident.

"We are working to identify the cause to ensure that it doesn’t happen again," they said.

Facebook, which is banned in China, has previously apologised for errors with its automatic-translation service.

In one instance in 2017, the feature erroneously translated “good morning” into “attack them” on a post written by a Palestinian construction worker.

The man was arrested by Israeli police after they suspected he was planning a vehicle attack using a bulldozer. He was released after the mistake was realised.