Facebook apologises for banning users from mentioning National Trust beauty spot Devil’s Dyke after branding it ‘hate speech’
- Facebook group users given bans for using the name of the Sussex beauty spot
- Tech giant warned the term goes against ‘community standards’ on hate speech
- Spokesman for the US social media firm apologised for their ‘clear mistake’
Facebook has apologised for issuing bans to people who mentioned the name of a Sussex beauty spot, branding it ‘hate speech’.
Users on community group Brighton People had been referring to Devil’s Dyke, a well known tourist attraction which has attracted visitors since the Victorian times.
But while they were innocently chatting about the spot, which has roads, pubs, restaurants and parks named after it, they say Facebook threatened them with bans if they continue to refer to it by its name, receiving messages suggesting they were using hate speech.
Facebook has tonight promised to look into the ‘clear’ error.
Beauty Spot Devil’s Dyke, in Sussex, is visited by thousands of people every year but earned bans for several Facebook users
One user said he was banned for 48 hours for posting a photo of a bus with the destination of Devil’s Dyke on the front.
He added: ““I got 48 hours in FB jail for posting a photo of a bus….the destination screen clearly says ‘Devil’s D***’. I put on the caption ‘….heading up to The D***’.
A spokesman for Facebook apologised for the ‘clear’ mistake and promised an investigation into the issue.
“I had a message saying that the post had been flagged up as ‘hate speech’ and has been deleted.
“As it was the second time I had been such a public menace, I won the star prize of 48 hours in the clink. It offered me a button to push if I thought there had been an error. I did that and 10 minutes later, I had a message saying the original decision had been upheld.
“There is nowhere I can explain the context of why I used the word.”
An administrator of the group added: “Just to say, Facebook has just informed admin that a post needs to be removed, moderation alert etc because of an address in Brighton being offensive.
“The name of the road is D..e Road. I will leave it to your imaginations to work out the name of the road. If I were to type it out I would be breaking rules.”
The social media giant has been forced to introduce tougher measures after it was accused of failing to crack down on extremism and hate speech.
But it generally uses an automated algorithm to decide what is offensive, leading to confusion when words have dual meanings.
A Facebook company spokesman said: “We’ve clearly made a mistake here and apologise to users whose posts were affected.
“We’re looking into what happened and will take steps to rectify the error.”