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Apple fixes iPhone bug that suggested Palestinian flag when some people typed ‘Jerusalem’

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

Apple has fixed a bug that suggested the Palestinian flag emoji when some users searched for the word “Jerusalem” in the emoji keyboard.

On Tuesday, the company addressed the bug with the latest beta software release of iOS 17.5, just a few days after it said it was working on a fix.

Apple’s previous update was introduced on March 21, but the recent discovery of the bug upset some users on social media. In one April 9 post on X viewed more than 2.3 million times, an iPhone user questioned whether Apple was aware of the error – and whether it was intentional. Apple said at the time the issue was a mistake and not coded into the keyboard intentionally.

But the user, who said she was Jewish, provided a long list of other cities that don’t surface a flag when entered into the emoji search box. It’s possible, however, Apple’s machine-learning technology determined the suggested emoji based on analyzing texts from millions of its users.

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The history of the region is complicated, and territorial claims in the ancient city are no less so. In 1967, Israel captured East Jerusalem along with other regions and later annexed that as part of Jerusalem to unify the city as its capital – although much of the international community recognizes East Jerusalem as Israel-occupied Palestinian territory. For its part, Israel considers Jerusalem as its undivided capital. In 2017, the US administration of President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reversing decades of American foreign policy.

So suggesting a Palestinian flag emoji for the search query “Jerusalem,” particularly when Israel is at war with Hamas, added tensions amid a long-running dispute.

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