Facebook has offices in more than 18 countries around the world, but the absence of a base in the Philippines probably goes some way to explaining the embarrassing gaffe the company made there on Sunday.
Befitting of any global-minded social networking company with an eye on world domination, Facebook attempted to ingratiate itself with its Philippine users on its Independence Day by posting a picture of the nation’s flag as part of a bespoke banner. The problem? The flag was upside down, a depiction that officially indicates the country is in a state of war. Oops.
Spotted by the Philippine Star, and presumably by many of the country’s 50 million or so Facebook users, the image showed the flag upside down, with the red part at the top instead of the blue, signifying to its population that the nation is at war. Underneath was a wonderfully upbeat message that you probably wouldn’t expect to see if your compatriots were involved in armed conflict with another country: “Happy Independence Day! Here’s to all of the Philippines’ health, happiness and prosperity.”
Of course, Facebook and Twitter users in the country were quick to draw attention to the blunder.
— Irene Mindanaoan.com (@mindanaoan) June 12, 2016
As soon as it realized its error, Facebook posted the flag’s more familiar design – ie. the right way up – before issuing an apology.
“This was unintentional, and we’re sorry,” it said in a statement on Tuesday. “We care deeply about the community in the Philippines and in an attempt to connect people on Independence Day, we made a mistake.”
It’s actually not the first time for this particular flag faux pas to happen. Back in 2010, the U.S. government made a public apology after hanging the flag upside down at a New York City event attended by President Obama and his Philippine counterpart. Officials called it an “honest mistake.”