Facebook removed posts referring to a popular seafaring spot in the UK called Plymouth Hoe. The social media platform has since apologized for the mistake of thinking people were using the word “hoe” in a “misogynistic” way.
Plymouth Hoe is a popular spot in the UK, with rich maritime history. It is where Sir Francis Drake started his quest to fight the Spanish Armada.
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The word “hoe” refers to a long-handed gardening tool, mostly used for weeding. The word is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word for a sloping ridge shaped like an inverted foot.
Informally, the word “hoe” is used in place of “whore,” which means prostitute and is often perceived as insulting and misogynistic.
Facebook says it flags posts with words that can be deemed offensive in specific contexts. But in this case, the company acknowledged it made a mistake in flagging posts and even suspending accounts of users referring to Plymouth Hoe.
A Facebook spokesperson said: “These posts were removed in error and we apologise to those who were affected. We're looking into what happened and will take steps to rectify the error.”
The company came under fire when users started noticing their posts were getting flagged. An administrator of one Plymouth page warned users to be cautious when mentioning the Hoe.
“Just a quick post to, say, anyone living Plymouth h o e, please don't write it as one word,” they said. “Facebook are saying it's harassment and muting people and giving them a Facebook ban. It's not us doing that.”
“Someone asked me where I swam in Plymouth, and I replied, “Plymouth H O E. I got told off for bad language and could not comment for two days,” a Facebook user said.