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Facebook translates ‘good morning’ into ‘attack them’, leading to arrest

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

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Facebook has apologised after an error in its machine-translation service saw Israeli police arrest a Palestinian man for posting good morning on his social media profile.

The man, 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 , or yusbihuhum, which translates as good morning.

But Facebook’s artificial intelligence-powered translation service, which it built after parting ways with Microsoft’s Bing translation in 2016, instead translated the word into hurt them in English or attack them in Hebrew.

Police officers arrested the man later that day, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, after they were notified of the post. They questioned him for several hours, suspicious he was planning to use the pictured bulldozer in a vehicle attack, before realising their mistake. At no point before his arrest did any Arabic-speaking officer read the actual post.

Facebook said it is looking into the issue, and in a statement to Gizmodo, added: “Unfortunately, our translation systems made an error last week that misinterpreted what this individual posted.

“Even though our translations are getting better each day, mistakes like these might happen from time to time and weve taken steps to address this particular issue. We apologise to him and his family for the mistake and the disruption this caused.”

Arabic is considered particularly difficult for many machine translation services due to the large number of different dialects in use around the world, on top of Modern Standard Arabic, the international form of the language.

The Israeli Defence Force has been open about monitoring the social media accounts of Palestinians, looking for lone-wolf attackers who might otherwise slip through the net. It reportedly does so automatically, using algorithms to look for terms such as sword of Allah.

Machine translation mistakes are a regular occurrence for anyone using AI to translate languages, particularly ones with little relationship. Earlier this month, Chinese social network WeChat apologised after its own machine translation system translated a neutral phrase meaning black foreigner as the n-word.

“When I ran the translator, the n-word came up and I was gobsmacked,” said Ann James, who had been texting back and forth with a friend when the faulty translation appeared.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/24/facebook-palestine-israel-translates-good-morning-attack-them-arrest

This isn’t the first time Dove rolled out a racist ad

Image: MARK ZUCKERBERG/FACEBOOK

For all the good Facebook has done in the wake of Hurricane Maria, CEO Mark Zuckerberg sending his cartoon avatar to the ravaged streets of Puerto Rico on Monday afternoon stands out as a tone-deaf misstep. He capitalized on a natural disaster to promote his company’s new tech, and the whole thing just felt … awkward.

Zuck sent his curly-haired, smiling avatar on a virtual journey to the suffering territory with Rachel Rubin Franklin, the leader of Facebook’s social reality team, courtesy of a 360-degree video created by NPR.

Zuckerberg and Franklin’s cartoon avatars floated along observing floods and destruction as Zuckerberg waxed poetic about the “magical” quality of virtual reality.

They even shared an awkward high five in front of flooded homes while laughing about how they were using the Facebook Spaces tech from different locales.

Twitter and some viewers commenting on the Live video on Facebook were quick to ask an important question…WTF?

Image: FACEBOOK

The juxtaposition of Zuckerberg’s avatar bobbing around hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico was indeed weird, but seeing him try to transition to the next stop on his virtual tour was even more cringeworthy.

After an awkward exchange about how the duo felt like they were really in Puerto Rico, filled with uncomfortable pauses and Zuck grabbing the virtual camera to show viewers the “completely flooded” street, the Facebook founder asks his coworker if she wants to “teleport” somewhere else.

“Maybe back to California?” Franklin said with a nervous laugh, and soon the two were on their way to San Jose to stand on stage at last year’s Oculus Connect 3 VR conference.

Despite this bizarre virtual trip to Puerto Rico, Facebook has carried out important disaster relief to help the devastated island. About 15% of residents are still without power and only about 19% of the territory’s cellphone towers are working, according to a government website tracking outages, even three weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall.

Facebook has donated $1.5 million for Puerto Rico relief through World Food Program and Net Hope. The company has also sent employees to help with Puerto Rico’s connectivity issues and has partnered with the Red Cross to use an artificial intelligence program to build population maps, in order to locate communities in need of assistance.

Perhaps Zuck’s intention with this Facebook Live was to bring a spotlight to Puerto Rico, but plopping VR cartoons into a disaster zone and peppering the conversation with nervous laughter just feels ignorant.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/10/09/mark-zuckerberg-virtual-reality-fail-puerto-rico/

Facebook exec to journalists: Be careful of your biases


Twitter … for Facebook employees.

Image: THIBAULT CAMUS/AP/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

Facebook has been making headlines, but not for anything good. The world’s largest social network is in the spotlight over Russia’s interference with the 2016 U.S. election.

Alex Stamos, Facebook’s chief security officer, seems to think the media’s characterization of his social network’s connection to Russia interference is unfair, and he expressed his frustrations Saturday via a tweetstorm:

Yes, that’s right. A Facebook executive went to Twitter, a competing social network, to share what he thinks journalists need to do better:

Of course, using Twitter shouldn’t be too surprising for the task he had in mind. Many journalists are some of Twitter’s most active users, sharing their stories on the platform on a daily basis and checking it every day for their own news discovery. “Media Twitter” is the term for journalists chatting amongst themselves on the network, instead of, you know, reporting on other matters.

Stamos’s move to speak so frankly on Twitter was peculiar for Facebook, which is typically a very secretive company in regards to strategy and upcoming projects. Even though CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks openly about the company’s plans in weekly all-hands meetings with employees, very little of it leaks.

“If we’re going to have this open culture, there’s a little bit of a pact [around not leaking secrets],” a former employee told Recode.

Executives may talk to some reporters, but they are typically accompanied by a public relations representative. Things have gotten tough for Facebook over the last month, however, ever since the company went public with the news that Russia-linked accounts purchased 3,000 ads, worth more than $100,000, during the 2016 election.

While we now know that Russia-linked accounts also leveraged Google and Twitter to spread propaganda, Facebook has taken a lot of the heat in the press as outlets report new developments seemingly daily about what the ads contained. Facebook has shared the ads and other information with Robert Mueller’s special investigation on the Russian interference and with Congress. But the company has declined to share the information with the public.

Despite his company’s lack of transparency, Stamos wants journalists to do better and be wary of their own biases.

It wasn’t just Stamos. Andrew Bosworth, an early Facebook employee who is credited with creating News Feed and now oversees the hardware and artificial intelligence work at the company, also chimed in on Twitter Saturday. He responded to journalists publicly and also spoke via direct message with reporters such as myself.

“We could talk on FB but very few journos there! Gotta go where the journalists are I think,” Bosworth sent to me via a Twitter direct message Saturday after I tweeted:

When I then asked if the decision to tweet Saturday was a planned strategy by Stamos and other execs or “just done on a whim,” Bosworth asked to move the conversation to “off the record,” which I declined.

Well, at least someone is using Twitter other than this guy.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/10/08/facebook-execs-transparency-twitter-russia-election/

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