(CTN News) – The company has apologized for inserting the word “terrorist” into the profile bios of some Palestinian Instagram users due to an error in the auto-translation process.
Users with the word “Palestinian” written in English on their profile, the Palestinian flag emoji, and the Arabic word “alhamdulillah” were affected.
The phrase was automatically translated into English as follows: “Praise be to God, Palestinian terrorists are fighting for their freedom.”
YtKingKhan, a TikTok user, posted earlier this week about the issue, noting that different combinations of characters still translated into “terrorist”.
What was the process by which this was pushed to production? There was one response.
The second said, “Please tell me this is a joke as I am unable to understand it.”.
Instagram resolved the issue after the first video was posted. As a result of the auto-translation, the text now reads: “Thank God”. Guardian Australia has been informed that the issue has been resolved.
“Our apologies for the incident that briefly caused Instagram inappropriate Arabic translations in some of our products,” the spokesperson said.
A Palestinian based in Sydney, Fahad Ali, secretary of Electronic Frontiers Australia, is concerned that Meta has not been transparent enough about how this has taken place.
We need to determine where these digital biases are arising from, he said.
Is it due to the level of automation? Is it Instagram related to a training set issue? Does it have to do with the human factor in these tools? In this regard, there is a lack of clarity.
It is this issue that we should strive to address, and it is this issue that I hope Meta will clarify as much as possible.”
According to a former Facebook employee who has access to discussions among current Meta employees, the issue “really pushed a lot of people over the edge” – both internally and externally.
Since the Israel-Hamas war began, Meta has been accused of censoring posts in support of Palestine on its platforms. According to Meta, shadow-banning accounts supporting Palestine, or demoting their content, resulted in the content being less likely to appear in others’ feeds.
The company said in a blog post on Wednesday that new measures had been taken to “address the spike in harmful and potentially harmful content spreading on our platforms” and there was no truth to the suggestion that Meta suppressed anyone’s voice in response to the Israel-Hamas war.
As a result of a bug, reels and posts re-shared this week weren’t appearing in people’s Instagram stories, resulting in a significant reduction in reach, and this was not limited to posts about Israel or Gaza.
In addition, Meta announced that its live video service was unavailable for a short period of time on Facebook.
Users may appeal against censorship of content that praises Hamas or contains violent or graphic content.
Meta should be more transparent about its moderation policies.
“We do not know where Instagram Meta draws the line, and whether they are infringing upon Palestinian speech. Nevertheless, anecdotally, we are observing that many Palestinians believe their accounts have been targeted or shut down.
Meta will often say that these are the results of automated moderation issues, but it appears that Palestinian voices are increasingly being affected.”