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(Credit: zhaojiankang/iStockphoto)

Chinese Android users might've had some trouble trying to translate certain words with the iFlytek app (iOS, Android). As part of the country's goal to clean up the internet, the voice-recognition company began censoring politically sensitive terms.

Tipster Jane Wong tweeted an image of the app failing to translate certain words and phrases from English to Chinese. Wong entered phrases like "Taiwan independence," "Tiananmen Square," and "Tiananmen Square massacre."

Wong also attempted to translate "Hong Kong Independence," "Tibet Independence," and "Uyghur Independence," but iFlytek only produced an asterisk.

SEE: Google search is coming back to China as an Android app that complies with 'The Great Firewall'

CNET.com, Download.com's sister site, got the same results upon testing the app. CNET reported that "Winnie the Pooh" translated, even though it was censored for a time because people compared the childhood character to China's president.

The South China Morning Post reported that not all translation apps have been censored. The Baidu Translate app generated accurate results. Neither iFlytek or Baidu have officially commented.

The censorship is part of an ongoing crackdown on media in China. In April, China's version of Twitter, Weibo, began a massive purge of anime, games, and videos promoting "bloody violence [and] homosexuality" or has what it called corruptive characteristics. Maya Wang, a senior researcher on China at Human Rights Watch, said Weibo's content dump was a "chilling context against free expression."

However, after a Chinese government newspaper criticized the attack against homsexuality, Weibo reversed course on that censorship.

Nevertheless, the Chinese government shortened the media's leash in June when the Cyberspace Administration of China said only news broadcasters licensed by the government could publish news on the internet and social media platforms.

Most recently, Google employees implored the search company to abandon the "Dragonfly" project in an open letter. The protesting employees said that by creating Dragonfly, which would be a censored search engine, Google would be complicit in the Chinese people's oppression.

"Our opposition to Dragonfly is not about China: we object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be," the letter said. "Dragonfly in China would establish a dangerous precedent at a volatile political moment, one that would make it harder for Google to deny other countries similar concessions."

The employees said they originally joined Google because the company appeared to place values above profit. In 2010, Google refused to censor results generated by Search, News, and Images in China.

After the US-based search engine rebelled against censorship, the site was actively blocked by "The Great Firewall of China."

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(Credit: Jane Wong/Twitter)

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Takeaways

  1. As part of a further crackdown on free speech in China, the voice-recognition company iFlytech has begun censoring politically sensitive terms.
  2. The app's self-censorship comes after China increased internet content and media production restrictions.

Also see

Google's "Don't be evil" apparently doesn't apply in China (TechRepublic)

Shelby is an Associate Writer for CNET's Download.com. She served as Editor in Chief for the Louisville Cardinal newspaper at the University of Louisville. She interned as Creative Non-Fiction Editor for Miracle Monocle literary magazine. Her work appears in Glass Mountain Magazine, Bookends Review, Soundings East, and on Louisville.com. Her cat, Puck, is the best cat ever.