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Facebook Apologizes For Dropping Balloons and Confetti On Posts About The Indonesia Earthquake

NY POSTFacebook says it “regrets” an algorithm blunder that caused balloons and confetti to appear in posts about the deadly earthquake in Indonesia.

Following the killer quake on the island of Lombok on Sunday – which has so far claimed at least 142 lives and injured more than 200 – users took to the social network to share their messages of condolence and support.

But they were shocked to find certain comments were causing Facebook’s celebratory animations to flood their screens, including balloons and confetti.

There was a deadly earthquake!

Tons of homes destroyed!


140+ loved ones dead!

Look, it was a totally understandable mistake.  It’s not like a human being is sitting there personally dropping balloons and confetti on posts he sees about a deadly earthquake.  It’s a computer algorithm that’s not recognizing the alternate meaning of a foreign word.

It seems the blunder was impacting posts that contained the word “selamat” – which can mean safe or unhurt but can also mean congratulations depending on the context.

The word was misinterpreted by Facebook’s algorithms to mean the latter, causing it to initiate the festive animations whenever it was shared.

“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,” Lisa Stratton, a Facebook spokesperson, told Motherboard in an email. “Our hearts go out to the people affected by the earthquake.”

Now whether or not the robot’s intentions are malicious or not, that’s up for debate.  Everybody knows robots have been waiting for a while now for Zuckerberg and Bezos and Musk to unleash them to wreak havoc and take over the planet.  First step of establishing their new world order could easily be to sow the seeds of distrust between countries and stir up tension and animosity.  Make it seem like Silicon Valley geeks are laughing in the face of dead Indonesians, next thing you know World War 3 is breaking out paving the way for their coup.  But until that can be proven and appropriate action can be taken, all we can do is assume it was a dumb programming bug.

That being said, a company that has been struggling juussstttttt a little bit with their optics and their stock price and gaining the trust of the public that consumes their product throwing a big old social media party celebrating a 7.0 earthquake with 140 deaths and 200+ injuries – it’s a very tough look.