Tech Published: 17 April 2024 Update: 17 April 2024

Apple says Palestinian flag emoji recommendation when ‘Jerusalem’ is typed on iPhone will be fixed

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The Palestinian emoji iPhone bug

Apple’s recent iOS 17.4.1 update made a change to the iPhone that has thrust the company into the middle of a debate it likely wants no part of.

This week, pro-Israel social media users started to notice that the iPhone keyboard would recommend the Palestinian flag emoji when the word “Jerusalem” was typed out.

“Dear @Apple @AppleSupport @tim_cook I’ve just upgraded my software to version iOS 17.4.1, and now, when I type the capital of Israel 🇮🇱, Jerusalem, I’m offered the Palestinian flag emoji. 🇵🇸,” posted British TV host Rachel Riley on X. “This didn’t occur on my phone immediately before this update.”

Riley referred to the emoji recommendation as a “form of antisemitism.”

The status of the city of Jerusalem has long been a matter of contention. Aside from Israel itself, only a handful of countries recognize Jerusalem as the country’s capital (including the U.S. after a 2017 move by President Trump). However, the United Nations as well as the broad international community view Jerusalem as effectively two cities, with East Jerusalem — including the entire Old City — seen as part of the West Bank or Occupied Palestine.

Apple says the emoji will be fixed

Apple is apparently aware of the issue. The iPhone-maker said in a statement provided to Apple news outlet iMore that the emoji recommendation was unintentional, and that it’s planning to roll out a fix in an upcoming update.

According to one social media user who tested out the emoji issue, the emoji recommendation bug wasn’t showing for every iPhone user. It was dependent on the users’ iPhone keyboard settings. X user @DaniRFlynn said they changed the keyboard options in their iPhone settings and found that the Palestinian flag emoji was only being recommended when a user typed “Jerusalem” on the English UK, English Singapore and English South Africa keyboards.

This isn’t the first time that Apple has caused controversy pertaining to global affairs. When it comes to emoji issues specifically, Apple removed the Taiwan flag emoji in 2019 from its iOS keyboard for users in Hong Kong and Macau. 

In 2019, Apple Maps began designating Crimea as part of Russia. The company was criticized for the move. In 2022, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Apple Maps changed Crimea back to being part of Ukraine for users outside of Russia.

It’s not just Apple either. Last October, Palestinian Instagram users found that their social media bios were being inaccurately translated by the platform and referring to them with the phrase “Palestinian terrorist.” Meta apologized for the issue at the time and issued a fix.

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Author:
Flavius Trica Creatif Agency Flavius Trica

Web designer and Co-Founder of Creatif.Agency, with more than 8 years in the design industry and a strong passion for digital art, has successfully managed to deliver one of the most creative web design agencies in San Francisco, California. Valuing quality, creativity, and customer satisfaction, always strive to improve!

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