The Google translator triggered a wave of 'fake news' on Thursday when it incorrectly translated the news of an Afghan reporter's death. The reporter had been beaten up by the Taliban in Kabul on Wednesday and his employer, TOLOnews, tweeted about the incident. But, the information was lost in Google translation.
"TOLOnews reporter killed by Taliban in Kabul", read the English translation under the disclaimer 'Translated from Persian by Google'. The news was flashed all over the world with breaking news tag across television and digital networks.
As the news became viral, reporter Ziar Khan Yaad jumped in to clarify and say that he is alive. "I was beaten by the Taliban in Kabul's New City while reporting. Cameras, technical equipment and my personal mobile phone have also been hijacked. Some people have spread the news of my death which is false.The Taliban got out of an armored Land Cruiser and hit me at gunpoint," Yaad tweeted.
Yaad added that he had no idea why he was attacked. "The issue has been shared with Taliban leaders; however, the perpetrators have not yet been arrested, which is a serious threat to freedom of expression," he wrote.
Early this year, Google translator had left Twitter users in splits with its translation of 'Avivahit' (unmarried) as 'Unworried. It got the meaning wrong in Malayalam, Bangla, Marathi, Gujarati and most other Indian languages.
Twitter had a hearty laugh over it. "Google understood that unworried are those who are unmarried," wrote a user. "I am worried in Hindi and Urdu", wrote another. "Google probably needs Hindi-speaking linguists and AI/ML engineers," advised a user.
The error was first noticed by a marketer Mahesh Murthy, who posted it on the social media platform and unleashed a barrage of reactions.
This is not the first time the web search engine has got a translation wrong. It has happened with several other languages including German, French and Italian.