Meta apologises for the biographical error on Palestinian Instagram accounts.
Meta, the parent company of Instagram, has issued an apology after it was discovered that the word “terrorist” was inaccurately added to the biographies of some Instagram users who identified as Palestinian. The error emerged as part of inappropriate Arabic translations in some of Meta’s products. This situation has raised concerns over the platform’s handling of content related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Many users have reported being “shadow banned” on Instagram due to their pro-Palestinian posts. Shadow banning is a practice where a platform restricts the visibility of an account’s content to other users, often for violating guidelines. Users claimed that their posts, particularly those related to the Israel-Gaza conflict, had fewer views and that their accounts were harder to find in search results.
While Meta acknowledged a bug that affected stories, it denied any connection to the content’s subject matter. The company maintains that the glitch resulted from issues unrelated to the conflict.
This issue gained attention when a user on X (formerly known as Twitter) and TikTok, @khanman1996, posted about the translation error and documented it in a screen recording. He had stated in his bio that he was Palestinian, along with a Palestinian flag and the Arabic phrase “alhamdulillah,” which translates to “praise be to God” in English. However, when users clicked on “see translation,” the English version erroneously read, “Praise be to God, Palestinian terrorists are fighting for their freedom.”
Shadow banning concerns have also emerged from Instagram users who believe their pro-Palestinian posts are being suppressed. Meta introduced a transparency tool in 2022 that allows users to check if any restrictions have been placed on their accounts, preventing their posts from being recommended to others.
The issue of handling content related to the Israel-Gaza conflict has faced criticism in the past, with notable figures like Bella Hadid and Fatima Bhutto claiming to be shadow banned due to their posts on the topic. Meta’s communications director, Andy Stone, stated that the recent bug had affected accounts worldwide and had nothing to do with the content’s subject matter, emphasising that it was resolved swiftly.