Memorial services were held around the globe yesterday to mark the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorism attacks. In a bid to help its users share their own thoughts on the subject, Facebook queued up a 'Remembering' status update - but offered an usual emoji for its suggested post...
Gizmodo writer William Turton spotted the inclusion of a plane emoji for the 9/11 post - a somewhat tasteless-if-literal symbol that encapsulates the terrorism act itself, rather than an attempt to remember and mourn the loss of life caused by the attack.
Facebook subsequently removed the plane emoji, replacing it with a candle.
Facebook is yet to provide comment on whether the emoji was selected via an algorithm looking after suggested posts, or if it was a tactless human decision that prompted the inclusion of a plane symbol.
In the run up to 11 September, Facebook's 'Trending' algorithm came under scrutiny when it began promoting an 9/11 Anniversary topic that linked to a tabloid article suggesting the attack was a hoax. The trending story linked to a Daily Star article that claimed 'experts' had released footage demonstrating that the Twin Towers collapsed as a result of controlled explosions.
Facebook told The Washington Post that the trending post - selected by algorithms rather than a human - had been spotted and consequently removed.
Looks like we've got a few more years before computers learn the delicate art of empathy.