Liking faggots lands Facebook user in trouble

The UK and the US are often described as two nations divided by a common language. And Taunton Facebook user Robert Wilkes has to agree after finding himself banned from the social media site after saying that he liked a certain type of meatball.

When Eileen Perrin had her account locked for 12 hours for posting a picture of faggots, Wilkes chipped in with the comment "I like faggots". But Facebook didn't like his post, and blocked him from the site for 24 hours.

"It may have a different meaning in America but I used it in a food context," Wilkes told The Sun. "Facebook allows beheading videos, cruelty to animals, stabbing and terrible swear words – but not this. It's political correctness gone mad."

Facebook's policies on offensive material are widely seen as very inconsistent indeed. Until very recently, it was happy to host a video of a woman being beheaded - but not of women breastfeeding their babies.

The company says it aims to remove content that contains threats, harm and hate speech, as well as depictions of drug use or self-harm, graphic content, nudity and pornography. However, following the scandal over the beheading video, it's been forced to issue a clarification. It will now "take a more holistic look at the context surrounding a violent image or video, and will remove content that celebrates violence" while allowing some content "of public interest or concern," it says.

One problem is that the company's system for removing offensive content relies in the first instance on automatic detection methods, such as image and key word recognition - which are far from perfect. Suspect posts are automatically deleted until the user complains, when they can later be checked by a human being.

As a result, Robert Wilkes's experience is by no means unique: in September, for example, an advertisement for a bird-watching group was pulled for its mention of 'juvenile boobies'.
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