Facebook translated Xi Jinping, the name of the Chinese leader, from Burmese to a vulgar word in English.
The mistranslation caught the company’s attention when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto civilian leader of Myanmar, wrote on her official Facebook page about Mr. Xi’s two-day visit to her country.
When the Burmese posts were translated into English on Facebook, Mr. Xi’s name repeatedly appeared as “Mr. Shithole.”
Andy Stone, a spokesman for Facebook, apologized on Saturday.
“We fixed a technical issue that caused incorrect translations from Burmese to English on Facebook,” Mr. Stone said. “This should not have happened and we are taking steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
When Facebook’s system finds a word that does not have a translation, it makes a guess and replaces it with a word with similar syllables, Mr. Stone said. After running tests, Facebook found that multiple Burmese words starting with “xi” and “shi” translated to the vulgarity in English.
News of the vulgar translation appeared to be censored in China, where major news websites and social media platforms were silent about it.