Google Translate tells world to 'live with communists'

Google translates 'down with communists' to 'live with communists'

(Google Translate screenshot)

(Google Translate screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A Chinese netizen on Monday (Aug. 3) discovered that Google Translate is now translating "down with communists" as "live with communists."

In yet another example of Big Tech actively or unwittingly doing Beijing's bidding, a Chinese Twitter user on Monday posted a screenshot of some strange translations and wrote "Everyone look at how Google is helping the Communist Party to commit abuse."

In a screenshot below, she showed that she had typed the Traditional Chinese characters "打倒共匪," meaning "Down with the Communist Bandits," and the Google English translation was a fairly accurate "Down with the Communists," minus the "Bandits." She then similarly wrote "打倒共產黨," meaning "Down with the Communist Party," and the Google version was right on the mark.

(Google Translate screenshot)

In the next screenshot, she typed "Down with the Communists" in English, but the result Google spit out in Simplified Chinese was "与共产党共处," meaning "Live with the Communist Party." Next, she inputted "Down with the Communist Party, and received the consistently same advice to "共处," meaning "live with" or "coexist with" the Communist Party.

When Taiwan News typed in "Down with the Communist Bandits" in English, Google Translate recommended, "Living with Communist Bandits " (與共產主義匪徒共處). Stranger still, typing in "Down with the 50-cent Party" — the colloquial term for paid pro-China trolls — yielded "與50美分的聚會," meaning "Party with 50 cents."

(Google Translate screenshot)

There were many theories as to why this was occurring, with one user observing Google at times can mistakenly translate the opposite meaning, such as interpreting cutting ties to mean "establishing ties" (建立聯繫) in Mandarin. However, the majority of the over 60 people who commented blamed Google Translation's heavy reliance on and vulnerability to crowdsourcing, in which random volunteers can make translation suggestions.

Given the legions of cyber soldiers at China's disposal — roughly estimated by Foreign Policy to be between 50,000 to 100,000 — it is conceivable that a targeted campaign on specific translations could yield the desired results. Such censorship and disinformation imposed by Chinese trolls have become commonplace in Wikipedia entries, YouTube comments, Microsoft Bing translations, and countless posts on all major social media platforms, including Reddit.