British parliamentarians have challenged Facebook tsar Mark Zuckerberg over the tech giant’s abortive efforts to censor a history group for discussing the traditional Black Country dish faggots and peas.
“We discuss local news, we discuss memories, pictures, and our food too – and local Black Country dishes,” explained Marilyn McDonald, a member of the Pensnett, Brierley Hill and Black Country Now and Then (History Group) page, in comments reported by the major West Midlands newspaper the Express and Star.
“We came onto the subject of faggots and peas and Facebook have gone ballistic and have got rid of one of the admins of the group. They say faggots is a derogatory word but it’s our dialect, for goodness sake,” she said.
“I find it disgusting that they can abuse our heritage like this.”
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Faggots are a meatball-like dish made from pork leftovers and offal with a history dating back at least to the 1800s, and themselves take their name from the even older meaning of ‘faggot’ as a bundle of sticks. They are a traditional food in working-class communities in Britain’s industrial West Midlands, and agricultural South West.
In the UK, pork faggots can be bought in butcher’s shops in those regions, and frozen in supermarkets nationwide.
Facebook, which appears to have instead linked the name to the modern, U.S.-origin pejorative for male homosexuals, was criticised for its action against fans of the traditional dish by the Conservative MP for Dudley South, Mike Wood.
“It’s ludicrous that you’re banning a group celebrating a local recipe. What next? Censorship of spotted dick and a lifetime ban for Bake Off?” the politician demanded, insisting there is “nothing homophobic, discriminatory or hateful about faggots and peas.”
“This woke agenda has gone too far,” agreed the MP for Dudley North, Marco Longhi.
“First it was historic statues and now it’s our food. What will they target next? I’m very tempted to send Mr Zuckerberg some lovely homemade faggots and peas,” he said.
Indeed, Wood went so far as to invite Zuckerberg to sample the dish personally “next time you are in Brierley Hill”.
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Facebook has now walked back its crackdown, claiming their “systems clearly made a mistake here” and adding that “we apologise to users whose posts about this local delicacy were affected. We’re looking into what happened and are taking steps to rectify the error.”
This is not the first time the dish has fallen foul of the tech giants, however, with an online advert promoting faggots and peas for sale at the Fanny’s Rest Stop Café retro diner in Wales being taken down by Google as “inappropriate or offensive” content in late 2019, for example.