Microsoft was forced to apologise after it came out that if you asked Bing to translate “Daesh,” the Arabic word for ISIS, it would come back with “Saudi Arabia” in English.
Needless to say, Saudi Arabians weren’t happy with the implications of being lumped in with the militant Islamic State via translation, and took to social media to voice their displeasure.
— ibrahim abdullah (@hemo53578) August 25, 2016
While photos of the error are still making their way around social media, a Microsoft spokesperson tells Business Insider that they fixed it within hours of spotting it last Thursday morning.
Dr. Mamdouh Najjar, Microsoft’s Vice President for Saudi Arabia, made a statement on Twitter apologizing for the mistake and ensuring that it was unintentional. He also told The Huffington Post that the mix-up may have been due to Bing’s method of crowdsourcing translations, where if 1,000 users suggest an alternative translation, Bing will promote it.
اعتذر بأسمي شخصيا كموظف بالشركة للشعب السعودي العظيم وهذا البلد الغالي على قلوبنا جميعا عن هذا الخطاء الغير مقصود #مايكروسوفت_تسيء_للسعوديه
— د. ممدوح نجار (@Mamdouhnajjar) August 26, 2016
If the error was caused by malicious users, it woudn’t be the first time Microsoft got targeted like that: Microsoft had to take its “Tay” Twitter chatbot down after some jerks forced her to repeat racist and genocidal ideas.