United Kingdom

Facebook apologises after banning historic Plymouth site because the word 'hoe' breaches its policy

Facebook has apologised to Devon residents after they were forced to alter the spelling of Plymouth Hoe to avoid being banned for breaching its rules.

The city's Hoe is the site where Sir Francis Drake is said to have been playing bowls when he was told of the approaching Spanish Armada in 1588.

But the word – derived from the Anglo-Saxon for a sloping ridge – was judged by Facebook to have breached rules on harassment and bullying because of it is used as slang for 'prostitute'. 

Users were advised to leave a space between each letter to avoid being blocked and some claimed they were banned for 24 hours after mentioning the Hoe. 

Facebook has apologised to Devon residents after they were forced to alter the spelling of Plymouth Hoe (pictured) to avoid being banned for breaching its rules. Pictured: A statue of Sir Francis Drake marks the spot on the Hoe where he is said to have been playing bowls when he was told of the approaching Spanish Armada in 1588 [File photo]

Facebook has now apologised for the error. 'We're looking into what happened and will take steps to rectify the error,' a spokesman said.

The Hoe is described as a 'breath-taking panorama', with tourist sites stating 'no trip to Plymouth is complete without a visit there'.

It is described as the 'perfect place to spend a sunny day, enjoying a picnic on the grass or taking a dip in the art deco Tinside Lido'.

Facebook users have been encouraged to take additional steps to avoid offending those who may believe the word is used in a derogatory fashion.

The Hoe is described as a 'breath-taking panorama', with tourist sites stating 'no trip to Plymouth is complete without a visit there' [File photo]

Jennie Wills wrote: '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.'

Debs Davy added: 'I was in a group that said 'post a photo of your town that will give away where you live without saying the name of it, just the name of the subject of the photo'.

'I got asked, 'Are you sure you want to post this, it may be deemed offensive to some'.'

Many locals saw the funny side and noted that the name of The Hoe had always been a source of local amusement. 

Last week Facebook had to apologise after a beauty spot near Brighton called Devil's Dyke was branded 'hate speech'.

Last week, Facebook had to apologise after branding the Devil's Dyke (pictured) near Brighton 'hate speech' [Stock photo]

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