Chinese AI champion iFlytek censors politically sensitive terms on its translation app-SCMP

What happened: Chinese artificial intelligence company iFlytek has removed political sensitive terms such as “Tiananmen” and “independence” from showing up as results in the Android version of its popular translation app. The results on iOS version of the iFlyTranslate app were not affected.

Why it’s important: The news comes amid the government’s broader campaign to clean up online contents. The campaign mainly targets at social media and livestreaming apps so far. Top services in these areas such as WeChat, Weibo and Douyin have been subject to strict content censorship. But iFlyteck is a rare case of translation tool app to launch self-censorship initiative given that there’s no government regulation on blocking politically sensitive phrases on translations services in China. The reasons behind the company’s voluntary move might be attributed to the fact that iFlytek’s digital translation service is used in many high-profile events in China. Also, the Shenzhen-listed company was under skepticism for receiving too much government fund. Report by the Changjiang Times claims iFlytek allegedly received RMB 6.53 billion ($950m) in government subsidies over the last five years.

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com. More by Emma Lee

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