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Palestinian Arrested After Facebook Translates ‘Good Morning’ As ‘Attack Them’

A Palestinian man was mistakenly arrested in Israel after Facebook’s translation software turned his “good morning” photo caption into a threat.

The man, who works in a West Bank settlement, posted a photo of himself next to a bulldozer with the message “good morning” in Arabic. But Facebook’s proprietary translation algorithm translated it into Hebrew as “attack them.”

Local police officers were notified of the post and arrested the man. They were especially concerned that he was posing next to a bulldozer, which has been used by Palestinians in hit-and-run terror attacks.

Israeli security frequently monitors Palestinians’ social media accounts to detect possible terror threats.

No Arabic-speaking officer read the post before the man’s arrest, Haaretz reported. The man was soon freed after the police admitted a mistake was made.

“Unfortunately, our translation systems made an error last week that misinterpreted what this individual posted,” a Facebook spokesperson told Gizmodo. “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 apologize to him and his family for the mistake and the disruption this caused.”

Contact Aiden Pink at pink@forward.com or on Twitter, @aidenpink

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Palestinian Arrested After Facebook Translates ‘Good Morning’ As ‘Attack Them’

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