Facebook translates 'Good morning' as 'Attack them'

Occurred: October 2017

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A Palestinian man was arrested by Israeli police for a post on Facebook that was inaccurately translated by the technology platform's automated translation service. 

The man had posted a selfie on Facebook with the caption “يصبحهم”, or 'yusbihuhum,' which translates as 'good morning.' But Facebook's system translated the caption as 'attack them' in Hebrew and 'hurt them' in English, prompting police to arrest him after they were notified of the post and concluded he was planning a vehicle attack. 

The Palestinian was later released and the police apologised. According to Haaretz, no Arabic-speaking officer had read the man’s post. 


Developer: Meta/Facebook
Country: Israel
Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts; Govt - police
Purpose: Translate text
Technology: NLP/text analysis; Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - race
Transparency: Governance