A British restaurant owner is furious after Google’s offensive content filter took issue with an advertisement for a traditional regional dish, mistaking it for a homophobic slur and deleting the ad for its ‘hateful’ content.
Jo Evans-Pring, owner of Fanny’s Rest Stop Cafe in Wales, saw a welcomed boost in sales after buying a number of ads through Google, but she was soon informed that there was a problem with one of her adverts. The tech giant took umbrage with a traditional lunch offering: Fanny’s faggots and peas.
“I posted an advert on the website for Fanny’s faggots with peas and onion gravy, a pretty traditional meal and one of my favourites… but the next day I got an email from Google saying they’d removed a post of ours,” Evans-Pring said.
She and her staff “realised they’d moved the faggots one – and we couldn’t think it was for any reason other than it having the word ‘faggots’ in it.”
Google referred Evans-Pring to its policies, explaining that “inappropriate and offensive content” was prohibited, but the cafe owner was flummoxed. While the company has gone after ads from dodgy app developers and for “unproven” medical treatments in recent months, food items are a less common target. In fact, a Google search for “faggots and peas” brings up dozens of recipes, clearly recognized by the search engine as a genuine dish.
Evans-Pring initially found some humor in the mix-up, but she said it has gone too far.
“At first, we found it kind of funny,” she said. “But ultimately we’re… furious by the decision… Someone has made a decision that’s affecting my livelihood.”
Popular in parts of Wales and the English Midlands, faggots are meatballs made from offal and minced off-cuts, and often served with a side of peas. The meal has no connection to the homophobic term of abuse, yet Google’s content filters, unable to detect context, have apparently deemed the dish bigoted, even if its search engine disagrees.
“The world’s gone totally mad,” Evans-Pring said, adding “People need to spend their time dealing with real problems, not things like whether or not the word ‘faggots’ when selling that meal is hateful.”
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