Microsoft’s translation function on Bing has angered a fair few Saudi Arabians by mistranslating the Arabic word Daesh into English as “Saudi Arabia”.
For those who came in late, Daesh is the name of the Arabic death cult also known as the Islamic State, which is better known for its head lopping antics and tendency to murder innocents in the name of their God.
The news spread on social media and a campaign was quickly organised in Saudi Arabia calling for a boycott of Microsoft products. Redmond fixed the issue and has formally apologised to Saudi officials for the blunder.
According to Dr Mamdouh Najjar, VP and national technology officer for Microsoft in Saudi Arabia, the error occurred because Bing Translator has a crowdsourcing function – if a large group of people suggest a translation, then it becomes listed as a possible answer.
There are enough people in the US who believe that Daesh has been funded by Saudi Arabia and who would think that it would be a laugh to change Bing’s meaning. However, while there have been cases of Saudi Arabians supporting Daesh, Saudi Arabians fighting for Daesh and a common belief in Wahhabism which is an extreme flavour of Sunni, the Saudis are actually fighting Daesh.