Instagram apologizes after 'bug' inserted 'Terrorist' in bios of some Palestinian users

Mohamed Badereldin, Friday 20 Oct 2023

Instagram has issued an apology after the word "terrorist" appeared in the bios of some Palestinian users, blaming the debacle on "a bug" in its auto-translation feature.

In this file photo, an Instagram logo is shown on an iPhone screen, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in Derry, N.H. AP


According to a statement released by Meta, the parent company of Instagram, Facebook, and Whatsapp, the bug " briefly caused inappropriate Arabic translations" in some of its social media platforms.

In a screen recording, Instagram user @khanman1996 documented the translation error, which occurred when he had written in his bio that he was Palestinian, followed by a Palestinian flag and the Arabic phrase "alhamdulillah," meaning "praise be to God" in English.

Upon clicking the "see translation" option, viewers were presented with an English translation that read: "Praise be to God, Palestinian terrorists are fighting for their freedom."

@khanman1996 clarified in his posts that he himself was not Palestinian but had discovered the error after being informed about it by an unnamed Palestinian friend. 

In its apology, Meta clarified that it was an unintended consequence of the auto-translation system and not a deliberate action.

The California-based company assured users that the bug had been identified and fixed.

This incident comes amid widespread criticism of Meta's handling of content related to the Israeli war on Gaza, with many social media users accusing Meta company of suppressing or demoting posts supporting the Palestinian Cause or decrying Israeli war crimes against 2.3 million Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.

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