A Man Gets Arrested After Facebook Translated His Post Wrongly

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A Man Gets Arrested After Facebook Translated His Post Wrongly
Short Title Facebook Translates ‘Good Morning' Into ‘Attack Them' Leading to Arrest
Location Palestine
Date 2017

Solove Harm Distortion, Intrusion
Information Communication, Identifying, Social Network
Threat Actors Facebook, Law Enforcement

Affected A man
High Risk Groups Ethnic Minority
Tangible Harms

Palestinian man questioned by Israeli police after embarrassing mistranslation of caption under photo of him leaning against bulldozer.


In 2017 a construction worker in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit, near Jerusalem, posted a picture of himself leaning against a bulldozer with the caption “يصبحهم”, or “yusbihuhum”, which translates as “good morning”.

Facebook’s artificial intelligence-powered translation service instead translated the word into “hurt them” in English or “attack them” in Hebrew. This is an example of Distortion.

Police officers arrested the man later Intrusion that day questioned him for several hours, suspicious he was planning to use the pictured bulldozer in a vehicle attack, before realising their mistake.

Facebook said it is looking into the issue, and said “Unfortunately, our translation systems made an error last week that misinterpreted what this individual posted.”


Threat: Facebook’s showing the wrong translation of a persons words
At-Risk group: A man in West Bank
Harm: Distortion
Secondary Consequences: Incarceration, Anxiety

Threat: Law enforcement officers arresting the man
At-Risk group: A man in West Bank
Harm: Intrusion
Secondary Consequences: Incarceration, Anxiety

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