A Facebook group dedicated to gardening in western New York state is celebrating a victory over the company's algorithms after having been repeatedly threatened with censure and deletion due to use of the word "hoe".
According to Elizabeth Licata, a moderator for the 7,700-member WNY Gardeners group, posts which referred to the handy implement were being flagged by Facebook algorithms as "violating community standards."
The AI was apparently under the misapprehension that the Empire State horticulturalists were referring to a similar-sounding offensive slang term for a prostitute (mostly aimed at women) and is usually spelled without the "e" at the end. You could nevertheless argue that the two words are... *ahem* hoemonyms.
Facebook's somewhat scattershot community monitoring algos will usually flag and delete posts containing material they consider offensive, although the processes they use to arrive at these decisions are opaque, and difficult – if not impossible – to reverse, even if they are obviously mistaken.
Worse still, if a community's members and moderators post too much material that the algorithms deem to be inappropriate, the entire group can be arbitrarily shut down, with little chance of appeal or redress.