Israel arrested an innocent Palestinian after Facebook’s translation error

It may sound funny but it is not. Facebook automatically translates about 4.5 million posts everyday. Some are translate correctly and some are done not so accurately. A mistranslation had a Palestinian man in trouble as he was arrested.

Last week, a palestinian worker at a construction site in the West Bank posted a photo of himself in front of bulldozer on Facebook. The caption of the picture was “يصبحهم” meaning “Good morning” in English but Facebook translated it into the words “Attack them“.

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According to a journalism post, lot of reports were submitted to Israeli police from civilians about this post which resulted in a rest of the Palestinian man. The interesting part was, israeli police did not bother to check the meaning of the word with any of the local who speak the language.

Israeli police admits that they track social media activities of Palestinians. After the incident, Facebook came up with an apology in a statement

Unfortunately, our translation systems made an error last week that misinterpreted what this individual posted.

Even though our translations are getting better each day, mistakes like these might happen from time to time and we’ve taken steps to address this particular issue. We apologise to him and his family for the mistake and the disruption this caused.

The man was detained by Israeli police for hours and was questioned because police suspected that he may use the bulldozer as a weapon for a vehicle attack.


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