The Israel police detained a Palestinian worker last week after Facebook automatic translated ‘good morning’ to ‘attack them.’

Last week, the man posted on his Facebook page a picture from the construction site where he works, in the illegal Israeli settlement of Beitar Ilit, occupied West Bank, near Jerusalem.

In the picture he is leaning against a bulldozer alongside the caption: “Good morning” in Arabic.

The automatic translation service offered by Facebook uses its own proprietary algorithms. It translated “good morning” as “attack them” in Hebrew and “hurt them” in English.

Arabic speakers explained that English transliteration used by Facebook is not an actual word in Arabic but could look like the verb “to hurt” – even though any Arabic speaker could clearly see the transliteration did not match the translation.

But, because of the translation, the Israeli police in the occupied West Bank were notified of the post.

The police suspected the man was threatening to carry out an attack and the police abducted him. After he was questioned, the police realized the mistake and released the man.

When asked, the police confirmed the incident and blamed incorrect translation. The police agreed the correct translation was “good morning.”

Search IMEMC: “Facebook”