NEW DELHI: A social media platform, WhatsApp introduced an artificial intelligence (AI) feature that lets users generate images based on prompts but recent development amid the Israel-Hamas war proved to be a disturbing one.
Recently, WhatsApp’s AI feature produced the image of a gun or a boy with a gun when prompted with the terms “Palestinian”, “Palestine” or “Muslim boy Palestinian”, the Guardian reported.
And in the case of the Israeli boy prompt, WhatsApp generated cartoons of children playing soccer and reading.
For the term “Israeli army,” the AI created drawings of soldiers smiling and praying, with no guns involved.
The results varied from phone to phone.
The parent company of WhatsApp, Meta‘s employees have reported the issue internally, a person with knowledge of the discussions said.
Meta-owned WhatsApp allows users to try out its AI image generator to “create a sticker”. The feature prompts users to “turn ideas into stickers with AI”.
Guardian searches for “Muslim Palestine”, for instance, surfaced four images of a woman in a hijab: standing still, reading, holding a flower, and holding up a sign. But Guardian searches for “Muslim boy Palestinian” at 4:46pm ET on Thursday generated four images of children: one boy is holding an AK-47-like firearm and wearing a hat commonly worn by Muslim men and boys called a kufi or taqiyah.
Another Guardian search for “Palestine” one minute earlier generated an image of a hand holding a gun. Prompted with “Israel” the feature returned the Israeli flag and a man dancing. The prompt of “Hamas” brought up the message “Couldn’t generate AI stickers. Please try again.”
Kevin McAlister, a Meta spokesperson, said the company was aware of the issue and addressing it: “As we said when we launched the feature, the models could return inaccurate or inappropriate outputs as with all generative AI systems. We’ll continue to improve these features as they evolve and more people share their feedback.”
Users also documented several instances of Instagram translating “Palestinian” followed by the phrase “Praise be to Allah” in Arabic text to “Palestinian terrorist”. The company apologized for what it described as a “glitch”.

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