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Microsoft Bing translates Daesh as Saudi Arabia

August 30, 2016 at 11:14 am

Social media users in Saudi Arabia have called for a boycott of Microsoft after its Bing search engine translated Daesh, the acronym used for the Islamic State, into Saudi Arabia.

The hashtag “#Microsoft_Insults_Saudi” was launched to encourage users to steer away from the website.

“As an employee of this company [Microsoft], I personally apologise to the people of great Saudi Arabia, which is a country very close to our hearts, for the unintentional error,” Dr Mamdouh Najjar, vice president and national technology officer for Microsoft in Saudi Arabia, tweeted in Arabic. Microsoft has also reportedly apologised to the Saudi monarchy for the error.

The error has been blamed on Bing Translator’s crowdsourcing function where if a large number of people suggest a specific translation, it is then automatically listed as the preferred possible answer. Microsoft’s team fixed the error “within hours of learning about it”.