When searching for the word “dog” in Instagram’s story function, an emoji of a takeaway box related to Chinese-American food was displayed, angering those who worry that the app will reinforce racist stereotypes.
According to a post on Facebook’s internal message board, an Instagram employee noticed the problem over the weekend, and users of this popular photo-sharing app have been complaining about the problem since 2019. Instagram is owned and operated by Facebook.
“How is this emoji recommended, can we delete it so that the stereotype of Asian ethnicity will not continue?” wrote the employee, who is the product integrity project manager for Instagram. “I have tested with 3 of my family members and the results are shown.”
In a test on Apple devices, BuzzFeed News showed food containers to Chinese Americans when searching for “dogs”, and tried to place emojis or GIFs in stories, temporary images or videos attached to personal profiles within 24 hours. Last period. The takeaway box is one of seven possible emoji search results for the term, along with emojis of actual dogs, paw prints, and hot dogs.
The results cannot be copied on Android devices with Instagram. The story features on Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook apps have no searchable emojis or display racist results.
A Facebook representative told BuzzFeed News that the company is investigating the issue.
“We have removed the emoji that appeared in this search and are investigating the cause of this situation so that we can take steps to prevent it from happening again,” a Facebook spokesperson said.
After the story was published, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, Say on twitter The takeaway box emoji is associated with the term “dog bag”, which causes it to appear when searching for “dog”.
“We have deleted this search term, and we are sorry that it was misunderstood, and apologize to anyone we offend,” he said.
This problem has existed since at least 2019. In October of that year, One person tweeted They wanted to look for “cute puppy gif” on Instagram, but they found a takeaway box.
“Why did I search for dogs on @instagram, but Chinese food appeared??” Another lady tweeted Early 2020.
Jennifer 8 Lee, vice chair of the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee, which is responsible for helping the new emojis get approved, said that this mistake was Instagram’s fault. Although emojis are associated with certain keywords, there is no basis for linking “dogs” with emojis that people are worried about in unicode (a standard for uniformly processing text across devices).
“‘Dog’ is not the key word for’takeaway box’ in unicode,” Lee said, who also wrote Fortune Cookie Chronicles, A book about Americanizing Chinese cuisine. “It must happen at that platform level, and someone screwed it up.”
Lee said the link between the dog and the emoji of the takeaway container-this is actually An American invention -This echoes the racist cartoons that appeared when Chinese workers came to the United States in the 1800s. As immigrants began to build American railroads, food became a distinction in the “us and them” narrative, and Chinese workers were portrayed as “strangers eating dogs, cats, and mice on our coast.”
Lee added that although some Asian countries have dog meat, she pointed out that white Americans sometimes eat atypical animals such as crocodiles. “I want to say that ordinary Chinese will never eat dogs for the rest of their lives, just like ordinary Americans will never eat alligators for their entire lives,” she said.
This is far from the first time that Facebook products have been hit by accusations of cultural insensitivity. In 2018, after the deadly earthquake in Indonesia, the country tried to remind friends and family members of their safety or those who expressed condolences on the platform were Display holiday balloons After the platform failed to understand that the Indonesian word “survival” also means “celebration”.
This year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Instagram incorrectly labelled coronavirus misinformation In some stories, a screenshot of a commemorative tweet by the king’s daughter Bernice King, which has nothing to do with the pandemic, is shown.
“Our system incorrectly marked the screenshot of this tweet as vaccine error information,” an Instagram spokesperson Said at the time“We have now removed the wrong tags on these posts.”
February 8, 2021 at 21:49 PM
This story has been updated with comments from the head of Instagram Adam Mosseri.