Israeli Police Arrested Palestinian Due To Facebook Automatic Translation Error

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Israeli Police Arrested Palestinian Due To Facebook Automatic Translation Error

Israeli policemen patrol a street in the Arab east Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber following clashes in Jerusalem September 18, 2015. FILE IMAGE: Reuters

The Israel Police mistakenly arrested a Palestinian worker on October 15 because, relying on automatic translation, they thought he had published a Facebook post saying “Hurt them” when what he had really written was “Good morning.”

The man posted the message on his Facebook page on October 15 with an attached photo of him smiling and holding a cup of coffee and a cigarette while standing alongside a bulldozer at a construction site he works at in West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit near Jerusalem.

No Arabic-speaking officer read the post prior to the arrest, which was carried out by officers who relied solely on Facebook’s proprietary automatic translation, Haaretz reported. 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.

The police acted on the suspicion that the man might use the bulldozer to carry out the threat. After taking him in for questioning, the Judea and Samaria District police realized the mistake and released the man after a few hours.

The man removed the post from his Facebook page after the arrest.

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  • TiredOfBsToo

    Israel, what else is new? Terrorize first, question later. Notice the effect, the man removed his innocent post. Such is the language of a terrorist state.

    • Matthew Campbell

      Almost as bad as the Scot being arrested in Dubai for touching a mans hip in an attempt to keep from spilling a drink. Oh wait, except that the Israelis realized the mistake and released the man after only a few hours whereas the man in Dubai, though eventually let go, faced months of threat and had his passport taken from him. Oh the wicked Israelis

      • TiredOfBsToo

        Yeah they released him. They also didn’t bother to check what he actually said before terrorizing him because he was Palestinian. Do notice that he removed his friendly post; that’s called intimidation by the state. A very well known fact by Palestinians who have felt the boot of Israeli oppression for approximately 70 years.

  • Barba_Papa

    Not the first person probably who got into trouble thanks to Google translate.

    • FlorianGeyer

      Ich tener teu fikr क्याl lech bu גערעדט about. :)

      • Garga

        You sadist! :)
        It took 10 minutes to translate your 1 sentence.

        • FlorianGeyer

          It took me 15 minutes to write it :)

  • Eli

    That’s how you stop terrorism buy acting first asking later. Europe should take notes.

    • Garga

      They didn’t stop jack and it wasn’t terrorism.
      The best way to stop terrorism is not creating it in the first place. Now THAT’s what Europe and US should notice.