Facebook apologises after confetti and balloons appear on posts about Indonesian earthquake

Facebook have said they 'regret' the unfortunate context of the balloons. Credit: AP

Facebook has apologised after confetti and balloons automatically appeared on posts about an earthquake in Indonesia.

More than 130 people were killed after a 7.0 magnitude quake struck the popular holiday island of Lombok on Sunday.

Many Indonesians used the term "selamat" on Facebook posts about the quake, which can mean "congratulations" when used isolated, but also means "unhurt" when used in a different context.

Users of the social media website saw animated confetti and balloons adorn the posts as Facebook's algorithm is automatically triggered by the word "congrats," meaning messages of support were mistaken for those of well-wishes.

Human-computer Interaction PhD student Herman Saksono, who speaks Indonesian, spotted the blunder and tweeted his observation to his followers.

He wrote: "'Congrats' in Indonesian is 'selamat'. Selamat also means 'to survive'. After the 6.9 magnitude earthquake in Lombok, Facebook users wrote 'I hope people will survive'. Then Facebook highlighted the word 'selamat' and throw some balloons and confetti."

Speaking to VICE's Motherboard, Facebook spokesperson Lisa Stratton said, “This feature (a text animation triggered by typing ‘congrats’) is widely available on Facebook globally, however we regret that it appeared in this unfortunate context and have since turned off the feature locally.

“Our hearts go out to the people affected by the earthquake.”

Nearly 2,500 people have been taken to hospital with serious injuries and upwards of 156,000 people are displaced due to the extensive damage to homes.

The military said that five planes carrying food, medicine, blankets, field tents and water tankers left Jakarta for the island early on Wednesday.