Meta has apologised for inserting the word “terrorist” into some Palestinian users’ profile bio. According to The Guardian, the issue affected users with the word “Palestinian” written in English on their profile along with the Palestinian flag emoji and the Arabic phrase “alhamdulillah” – which translates to “Praise be to God” in English. However, upon clicking “see translation,” viewers were given an English translation reading: “Praise be to God, Palestinian terrorists are fighting for their freedom”. This issue was brought to attention by Tikok user ytkingkhan, who tested the phrase on his Instagram account.
Now, after the TikTok user’s video went viral online, Meta issued an apology for adding “terrorist” to the bios of some Palestinian Instagram users. The company said that it fixed a problem “that briefly caused inappropriate Arabic translations” in some of its products. “We sincerely apologise that this happened,” a Meta spokesperson told The Guardian.
Notably, this comes amid a time when Meta is facing accusations of suppressing content voicing support for Palestinians during the Israel-Gaza war. According to the BBC, several users have stated that they have been “shadow-banned” on Instagram over pro-Palestinian posts. They also accused the social media company of demoting their content, meaning it was less likely to appear in others’ feeds.
Meta, on the other hand, has said that it introduced several measures since the Israel-Hamas war began “to address the spike in harmful and potentially harmful content spreading on our platforms”. In a blog post on Wednesday, it stated that there was “no truth to the suggestion that we are deliberately suppressing (anyone’s) voice”.
The company said while content praising Hamas or violent and graphic content is banned, errors could be made in censoring other content and users should appeal against it. Further, it also added that there had been a bug this week that meant reels and posts that had been re-shared weren’t showing up in people’s Instagram stories, “leading to significantly reduced reach” – but said this issue was not limited to posts about Israel and Gaza.
Notably, the ongoing Israel-Hamas war has pressured online platforms to provide the public with accurate information on the conflict. Several prominent people have also urged online platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) to take strict steps to contain the spread of false and misleading content about the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.