Meta, the parent company of Instagram, has issued an apology after a translation error resulted in the word “terrorist” being inserted into some Palestinian users’ profile bios. This issue arose when certain bios included the word “Palestinian,” the Palestinian flag emoji, and the Arabic phrase “Alhamdulillah,” which translates to “Praise be to God.” These bios were mistakenly auto-translated to read, “Praise be to God, Palestinian terrorists are fighting for their freedom.”
The problem was first brought to light by a TikTok user, who conducted tests on his own Instagram account, revealing the translation issue. On one occasion, the phrase was translated to: “Palestinian terrorists [Palestinian flag emoji] Praise be to Allah.”
In response to the incident, Meta released a statement, saying, “We fixed a problem that briefly caused inappropriate Arabic translations in some of our products. We sincerely apologise that this happened.”
Meta, which owns both Facebook and Instagram, also emphasised that it has implemented various measures to address the spread of harmful and potentially harmful content on its platforms, particularly during the Israel-Hamas conflict. The company clarified that it is not intentionally suppressing any individual’s voice. It pointed out that content praising Hamas, which it designates as a “dangerous organization,” and violent or graphic content are prohibited on its platforms. However, Meta acknowledged that mistakes can occur and encouraged users to use its appeals process to rectify any wrong decisions.
Furthermore, Meta stated that it had resolved a bug that was affecting the visibility of re-shared reels and feed posts in Instagram stories, resulting in reduced reach. This issue was not exclusive to posts related to Israel and Gaza.
The European Union has called on TikTok and Meta to explain the measures they have taken to combat the spread of terrorist and violent content, hate speech, and disinformation on their platforms. The European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, formally requested information on how these companies are complying with new digital rules aimed at cleaning up online platforms. Social media has been flooded with photos and videos of death and destruction during conflicts, accompanied by false claims and misrepresentation of events.