Facebook apologises after banning users for hate speech when they posted about Sussex beauty spot Devil's Dyke

FACEBOOK has been forced to give the devil his due and have issued an apology after banning users who referred to a Sussex beauty spot, branding it "hate speech".

Users have claimed the social media giant threatened them with a ban if they continued to reference the National Trust tourist attraction Devil's Dyke, in Brighton.

Members of the community group 'Brighton People' had been innocently discussing the well-known spot, but were then slammed with messages claiming they were using hate speech.

One user even said he received a 48 hour ban for simply posting a photo of a bus with the destination Devil's Dyke on the front.

"I got 48 hours in FB jail for posting a photo of a bus….the destination screen clearly says ‘Devil's D***’. I put on the caption ‘….heading up to The D***", Ron Halestrap wrote.

"I had a message saying that the post had been flagged up as ‘hate speech’ and has been deleted.

"As it was the second time I had been such a public menace, I won the star prize of 48 hours in the clink. It offered me a button to push if I thought there had been an error. I did that and 10 minutes later, I had a message saying the original decision had been upheld," he said.

"There is nowhere I can explain the context of why I used the word and they obviously weren't arsed to look at the photo."

Facebook has since promised to look into the "clear" error.

The beauty spot is a 100m deep V-shaped valley on the South Downs Way and has remained a major local tourist attraction since the Victorian era.

Roads, pubs, restaurants and parks in the area are also named after Devil's Dyke.

Brighton People have claimed Facebook issued them with a notice to remove the word "Dyke" from posts, or face a ban.

Glenys Horton, an administrator for the group, said: “Just to say, Facebook has just informed admin that a post needs to be removed, moderation alert etc because of an address in Brighton being offensive.

“The name of the road is D..e Road. I will leave it to your imaginations to work out the name of the road. If I were to type it out I would be breaking rules.”

The social media platform told members they were "violating community standards on hate speech", a claim denounced by the group as "idiotic", "misguided" and "woke".

Lisa Pentecost said: "Devil’s Dyke is a local beauty spot run and managed by the National Trust in the UK idiot Facebook police. Not an offensive term."

Jo Adams added: “I got a 7 day ban for posting a pic up took on DD and tagged the location.”

It seems Facebook aren't the only ones concerned with the name – as another member claimed he was unable to online shop due to his address.

The user, who lives on Dyke Road, said: “I had this once. I live on that road and I couldn’t buy from a shop online as it wouldn’t accept the road name, informing me that rude words were not addresses!!”

Facebook has been forced to introduce stronger measures after being accused of failing to crack down on extremism and hate speech.

However, an automated algorithm is generally used to decide what is offensive which occasionally leads to issues when words have dual meanings.

Previous reports have revealed how some lesbians who self-identify as "dykes" and wish to use the word on Facebook have also found themselves blocked.

A Facebook company spokesperson said: "We've clearly made a mistake here and apologise to users whose posts were affected.

"We're looking into what happened and will take steps to rectify the error."

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