Facebook is very embarrassed after their A.I. software confused the meaning of some words and burst out confetti when Indonesians were expressing their condolences over the earthquake that took place this past Sunday. The earthquake had a magnitude of 6.9 and killed more than 300 people.
“Congrats” in Indonesian is “selamat”. Selamat also means “to survive.”
After the 6.9 magnitude earthquake in Lombok, Facebook users wrote “I hope people will survive”. Then Facebook highlighted the word “selamat” and throw some balloons and confetti. pic.twitter.com/DEhYLqHWUz
— Herman Saksono (@hermansaksono) August 6, 2018
Facebook’s A.I. is programmed to send out confetti and balloons whenever someone says “congratulations,” no matter the language. Turns out, the company didn’t foresee the intricacies and differences between languages, like Indonesian, where the word “selamat” has different meanings that include “congrats” and “to survive.”
In an email, Facebook told Motherboard that there was no malicious intent with the balloons and confetti effect. Their software was simply following its code without accounting for the differences between Indonesian and English. “This feature (a text animation triggered by typing ‘congrats’) is widely available on Facebook globally, however we regret that it appeared in this unfortunate context and have since turned off the feature locally,” said Facebook representative Lisa Stratton.
While it’s clear that what happened is no one’s fault, events like this prove that A.I. still needs some supervision from humans, especially if it means that the company would be spared from facing situations such as this one.