Investigating Translate Gate

This is obviously not dark web-related, but from time to time, I like to switch it up. Those of you who frequent 4chan or watch Nightmare Expo may have heard of a phenomenon called #translategate, in which Google Translate gives some very strange responses if you enter things in a certain way.

translategate1

The video in question aired on Dec. 20, 2017 (and part of its source material was a video by Elder’s Vault called The Somalian Google Translate Mystery #TranslateGate). So it’s been awhile, but I hadn’t yet investigated this phenomenon myself.

nightmareexpo_google.png

Essentially, if you set Google Translate to “Somali,” and then enter two-character bits of text, including English words broken up into two character fragments, you’ll not only get some odd (and creepy) translations, but the A.I. seems to be unintentionally revealing bits of personal information that belong to people using services connected to their Google accounts (like Disqus).

disqus

I experimented with this yesterday, and the glitch hasn’t been fixed – it’s in full form.

For instance, I typed in things like “li li li li li li li li li,” and “le le le le le le le,” and all kinds of strange “translations” came up as results. In fact, some of them definitely weren’t translations at all. They appeared to be (as I said above) pieces of information from other Google services…

I like creepy stuff as much as the next guy (in case you couldn’t tell), but this could also be a potential breach of privacy, particularly if the “glitch” is revealing someone’s information. Let’s experiment, shall we?

Just now, I typed in “li li li li li li li” and “le le le le le” many times, and some of the results included the following:

“beposest in the world of such as such as in the world of such as in the world, such as in the world, such as to the world, such as in the world, such as to the sum of the sum of, the sum of the sum of, the sum of the sum, the sum of the sum, the sum of the sum, the sum of the sum, the sum of the sum, the sum of the sum.”

“far as you are, you will not be surprised if you are just like you are, or just like all those who are just like us. If you are just like us?”

“About Contact us we have said that’s a long way Which is a great deal! Find a post office eg weeg tool About our:”

“What are you looking for? It is also important for you to be able to enjoy the luxury of fresh fruits and vegetables, such as l”

“oo ansere wei im Zeitung: Waxayaal kuntikareysaa oo is dul saaran qoob ka ciyaarka Arooska oo la yidhaa”

The responses I highlighted in red seem the most peculiar. For instance, the “About Contact us” one seems to be text from a website, doesn’t it? As for the one above, it’s in Somali, which is strange because I had selected “English” as the language to translate to.

Some of the creepiest translations (which Nightmare Expo mentions) appear when the translate bot interprets your input as “Filipino”; they almost sound like subliminal messages (and this wasn’t the only one):

translategate3

So what do I make of all this? I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, but part of the issue seems to be related to machine learning (which Nightmare Expo mentions in the video). The Translate bot has a database of learned translations and responses, which it often pulls translations from.

It may be that when it’s attempting to pull information from the database, it’s accidentally retrieving information from other databases instead. That’s just a guess.

Anyhow, what creepy responses have you gotten from Google Translate?

Let me know in the comments…

P.S. What’s the translation of “do u know de way?” (I couldn’t resist.)

unnamed (1)

 

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3 thoughts on “Investigating Translate Gate

  1. Hi, Those aren’t creepy at all, it’s what happens when the ai cannot determine what the input is.
    What you are seeing is the training data which is what users tend to type as they translate.
    Btw thank you for making a nice article about Flare, it’s not based on Candles code, just the user interface are somewhat similar.
    Seems I need to work on it abit

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