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Wed 31 Aug 2016 09:12 AM

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Microsoft apologies after Saudi translation error

Dr Mamdouh Najjar, head of Microsoft in Saudi Arabia said error may have been caused by Bing’s crowdsourcing function

Microsoft apologies after Saudi translation error
(AFP/Getty Images)

Microsoft has been forced to apologise after its online app Bing translated ‘Daesh’, an Arabic acronym for ISIL, as “Saudi Arabia” in English.

The error emerged after Saudi social media users shared videos of the glitch on the translation tool last week.

Social media users vented their anger at the US tech giant on Twitter, calling for a boycott under a hashtag ‘Microsoft insults Saudi’.

The campaign went viral in the kingdom, which has the most active Twitter users in the world.

Microsoft said the error has since been fixed by Microsoft’s product team, which said the matter was under investigation.

"Our product team fixed the error in the automated translation within hours of learning about it," a spokesperson said.

Dr Mamdouh Najjar, head of Microsoft in Saudi Arabia, apologised for the error through his Twitter account.

“As an employee of this company, 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 wrote.

Dr Najjar suggested to the Huffington Post’s Arabic edition that the error may have been caused by Bing’s crowdsourcing function, which changes the translation of a word if more than 1,000 people input a translation correction for a particular word.

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