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Facebook apologises for flagging Plymouth Hoe as offensive term

Abbianca Makoni
·2 min read
<p>The administrator of one Plymouth Facebook page warned its users to be careful when mentioning the Hoe</p> (Myagu/Pixabay)

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

(Myagu/Pixabay)

A well-known place in the UK’s seafaring history has been mistaken by Facebook for a misogynist term, leaving some social media users furious.

Plymouth Hoe, the region where Sir Francis Drake finished a game of bowls before heading out to fight the Spanish Armada, is one of the most popular beauty spots in the country.

Seated at the eastern end is the Royal Citadel, the most impressive 17th-century fortress in Britain and for many years England’s most important defence against attack from the sea.

The name is said to derive from the Anglo-Saxon word hoe – a sloping ridge shaped like an inverted foot and heel.

The social media company has apologised for its mistake and promised to take steps to ensure residents and visitors can use the term in relation to the Devon landmarkGetty Images
The social media company has apologised for its mistake and promised to take steps to ensure residents and visitors can use the term in relation to the Devon landmarkGetty Images

But Facebook has found itself in hot water after challenging some posts from local people who innocently mentioned the Hoe, mistakenly thinking they were using a misogynist term.

The social media company has apologised for its mistake and promised to take steps to ensure residents and visitors can use the term in relation to the Devon landmark.

It argued that some words can be slurs or offensive if used in certain ways and certain contexts, but not in others – admitting it was at fault in this case.

The problem emerged when some Plymouth Facebook users spotted that their posts were coming under unexpected scrutiny.

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

The user said: “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.”

Some users are now calling it Plymouth Oe instead of Hoe to avoid having their contents removed.

The Guardian reported a Facebook spokesperson as saying: “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."

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