A garden group administrator is having a whoele peck of trouble with Facebook.
At hoeme in western New York, Elizabeth Licata helps to moderate a 7,500-member Facebook gardening group.
But Facebook doesn’t approve of a very important gardening tool, the humble hoe. The word, unfortunately, is too closely related to another word that is a particularly derogatory term for a prostitute or a generally promiscuous person.
And so “hoe” gets flagged by Facebook’s algorithms as violating the company’s standards.
When a group member posted “Push pull hoe!” in response to a question about members’ favorite gardening tools, Facebook stepped in, The Associated Press reports.
“We reviewed this comment and found it goes against our standards for harassment and bullying,” said Facebook.
OK, granted, “Push pull hoe!” may be a bit loaded with double entendre.
Still, Licata says she’ll be darned if she’ll tiptoe around Facebook’s rules by coming up with a euphemism for hoe.
Concerned about this problem — which could result in the entire group being suspended for too much hoeing — Licata contacted Facebook to try to get things straightened out.
She told AP that she never heard back from a real person, and that Facebook’s maze of instructions for how to correct a bad flag on its site are too difficult to navigate.
So AP contacted Facebook.
That at least prompted an email, in which a (presumably) real person wrote back to say the mistaken blocks on “hoe” had been lifted.
And, said the email, if enough posts are flagged that the group is slated for suspension, a real person will check to make sure the posts are acceptable in their context.
Note that the promise applies only after enough posts are intercepted to threaten the group’s status.
Meanwhile, posts are still being taken down.
“Japanese beetles are jerks,” said one such post.
“Kill them all,” said another, referring to the same pest. “Drown them in soapy water.”
Facebook automatically blocked all comments on the original post because of “possible violence, incitement, or hate in multiple comments.”
Licata and cohorts can only hoepe that Facebook fixes this flaw.
We can’t wait to see what happens at Christmastime when gardeners and all the rest of us may start commenting, “Ho, ho, ho!”
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