How a Bad Chinese Translation Program Caused a Fake Racism Scandal for Abercrombie & Fitch

Twitter is freaking out over brown cargo pants which appear to be sold by Abercrombie and Fitch and are described as 'Nigger Brown.' It's a hoax: the pants are listed on abercrombie-and-fitchoutlet.com, a bogus website registered in China that appears to sell knock-off A&F gear. But how did these pants end up being described so racist-ly in the first place?

Our best guess: The sites' Chinese owners relied on a very bad Chinese-English translation program that's done this before. Back in 2007, a black Toronto couple were shocked to find that their new couch had a tag underneath that described its color, like these pants, as "nigger brown." Subsequent investigation traced the error back to the couch's Chinese manufacturer, who had used a translation program by Kingsoft which gave the slur as a translation for "dark brown."

From Snopes:

A Chinese software company, Kingsoft Corp., acknowledged its translation program was at fault. When the Chinese characters for "dark brown" are typed into an older version of its Chinese-English translation software, the offensive description comes up. (The program's 2007 version does not produce that result.) The software had been programmed with terms garnered from a Chinese-English dictionary.

Five years later, Kingsoft's crappy translation is apparently still causing intercontinental strife. Update your translation program, Chinese people.

But Twitter outrage is still flowing. Call off the horde, and let's focus on some non-automated racism: Like this conservative think tank which posted a picture of Obama eating a bucket of KFC.