Facebook apologizes after wrong translation sees Palestinian man arrested for posting ‘good morning’

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Facebook has apologized after a Palestinian man was arrested by Israeli police for a post saying “good morning” that its automatic-translation service erroneously translated as “attack them” in Hebrew and “hurt them” in English, reports Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The man is a construction worker near Jerusalem, reports The Guardian. He posted a photo of himself last week leaning against a bulldozer with the caption “يصبحهم”, or “yusbihuhum,” which translates as “good morning.”

Police arrested the man after they were notified of the post and were suspicious he was planning a vehicle attack using the bulldozer. He was released hours later after police realized the mistake. Haaretz reports that before his arrest, no Arabic-speaking officer had read the man’s Facebook post.

Facebook is currently investigating the issue and Necip Fazil Ayan, an engineering manager in Facebook’s language technologies group, said in a statement to Gizmodo that though mistakes might happen, the company’s translations are getting better each day. “Unfortunately, our translation systems made an error last week that misinterpreted what this individual posted. We apologize to him and his family for the mistake and the disruption this caused.”

Facebook’s translations are entirely powered by AI, and around 4.5 billion translations are made each day across the social network.

Comments

Another reason to stop using Facebook.

Google Translate is so much better. Maybe Facebook should use that.

Have you ever used google translate? It’s gibberish.

For the record google translated this to "Become them"…
I’m guessing the issue is that the term is a colloquialism of some sort.

Imagine how much he could have sued Facebook for if he lived in the US and this happened!

The American dream right there!

So much for due process and evidence.

No one from the Israel police department verified the source? Arrest were made based on a simple Facebook translation? And these police are suppose to be people who enforce law and order in their city/country, the authority figure citizens seek security and comfort from….

It’s an apartheid state. I’m surprised he didn’t end up dead.

Pretty much. Due process doesn’t exist in Israel if you look Muslim.

Facebook is horrible, do not know why anyone still uses it in a developed country

Are you kidding, Facebook is great — at least that’s what my 70 year old mom says.

I’m sure you’re not suggesting that only 70 year old moms use Facebook.

Personally, I like facebook for many reasons.

ducks

Same.

ducking intensifies

View All Comments
Back to top ↑