Twitter Confirms: Hebrew Translation Error Was A Bug

For a couple of days prior to the new year, the “translate tweet” button failed to appear on some Hebrew-language tweets, including those by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli government officials. This led to a conspiracy theory, spread by journalist Laura Loomer and others, that Twitter had done so for anti-Semitic reasons, in order to undermine the State of Israel.

The translation function appeared mostly restored within a couple of days, and it turns out the translation problem was, in fact, a software bug, and not a political decision on the part of Twitter’s leadership.

“Thx for reporting.” Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter’s product lead, said in a tweet, in response to a user who had complained. “This is a bug that was introduced when we switched translation providers in mid December. Impacts some tweets in Hebrew and some other languages (such as Chinese) only on iOS. Working on a fix that will hit App Store when it opens post-holidays.”

In an email to the Inquisitr Wednesday, Twitter spokeswoman Liz Kelley confirmed that the error was a mobile software bug. Beykpour replied to several users who had asked about the Hebrew translation issue, by linking to his original tweet about the matter.

“We identified this issue on Twitter for iOS, and it should be resolved with our next iOS update that will be available early next week,” she said. Kelley added that it was an iOS-only issue.

The conspiracy theorist Loomer, who was herself permanently banned from Twitter in November, wrote about the Hebrew translation issue on the conservative website Big League Politics. Her piece painted a conspiratorial picture of the translation issue, of “another act of Jew hatred and anti-Israel bias.” She went on to allege that “Twitter’s decision to essentially erase Jews and Israeli’s from Twitter by cutting off the translate option is an act of anti-jewish aggression against the Jewish people and their homeland.”

Loomer’s article was illustrated with a picture of Twitter’s logo, directly in front of a flag with a Nazi swastika. It also, with no evidence, tied Twitter’s removal of the Hebrew translation button to the large ownership stake held in the company by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal.

At any rate, if Twitter were seeking to undermine Jews or Israel, it would make little sense for them to remove a translation button, and then immediately reverse the decision within days, seemingly the moment anyone noticed.