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Facebook sorry after reportedly deleting posts about the UK's Plymouth Hoe and penalizing posters


'I got told off for bad language and could not comment for two days'

Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Looks like a Facebook algorithm needs a course in European history.

Because the venerable social media giant apparently with wisdom out the wazoo now has some egg on its face. Or perhaps a full English breakfast.

What are the details?

The hubbub concerns the Plymouth Hoe, a historic seafaring site on England's coast. Here's what the Visit Plymouth website says about "the Hoe":

It is here where Sir Francis Drake, intrepid explorer and local hero, is immortalized in a statue, situated just a few meters from the green where he finished his game of bowls before heading out to defeat the Spanish Armada in 1588.

At the eastern end of the Hoe you'll find The Royal Citadel, the most impressive 17th century fortress in Britain and for many years England's most important defense against attack from the sea. The Citadel has been in constant military occupation since it was built and today it is home to some of Plymouth's modern heroes — the troops of 29 Commando Royal Artillery.

The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon word "hoe," the Guardian reported, which is a sloping ridge shaped like an inverted foot and heel.

But some Facebook users got in trouble after referring to the landmark in recent posts, presumably because "hoe" is considered a misogynist term elsewhere.

The administrator of one Plymouth Facebook page warned its users to be careful when mentioning the Hoe, the paper said.

"Just a quick post to say anyone living Plymouth h o e, please don't write it as one word," the message read, according to the Guardian. "Facebook are saying it's harassment and muting people and giving them a Facebook ban. It's not us doing that."

One Facebook user's comments were removed on several occasions, the paper said, adding that, "Now I am writing Oe."

Another user told the Guardian 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."

Still another Facebook poster noted that when she mentioned the Hoe, she received the following message: "Are you sure you want to post this, it may be deemed offensive to some?" the paper said.


When all was said and done, Facebook apologized for its mistaken actions and promised to take steps to ensure residents and visitors can use the term "hoe" in relation to the Devon landmark, the Guardian said.

"These posts were removed in error, and we apologize to those who were affected," a Facebook spokesperson said, according to the paper. "We're looking into what happened and will take steps to rectify the error."

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