Google bans cafe’s advert for traditional faggots after deeming it ‘inappropriate and offensive’
Google banned a Welsh café’s post advertising faggots, peas and gravy as it was deemed to be “inappropriate and offensive content”.
As well as being an anti-gay slur, faggots are a traditional UK dish consisting of meatballs made from minced off-cuts and offal. It is commonly eaten in Wales and the Midlands.
Unfortunately this distinction wasn’t clear to Google administrators, who flagged an advert for faggots with peas and onion gravy from Fanny’s Rest Stop Café in Newport.
The advert was paid for by café owner Jo Evans-Pring, who was shocked to receive an email from Google citing the search engine’s content policy on “inappropriate and offensive content”.
She told Wales Online: “I got an email from Google saying they’d removed a post of ours, and then referred us to their posting contents policy.
“[We] had a look, and 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.”
She said she was “absolutely startled by what’s happened,” adding: “The world’s gone totally mad if people are getting worked up over that.
“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.”
Her friend Chris Barnbrook, who helped her set up the website and Google adverts, said: “After going over their content policy, the only thing I could see was that it might have been thought of as obscene, profane, or offensive.
“We thought it might be for the word ‘faggots’, which we felt was a bit ironic, as the café anyway is called Fanny’s.”
Fortunately the cafe has found a way around Google’s ban, and has now listed the dish under its Welsh name ‘ffagots’.
“Inappropriate content” on Google
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Google’s content policy states: “We value diversity and respect for others, and we strive to avoid offending users, so we don’t allow ads or destinations that display shocking content or promote hatred, intolerance, discrimination or violence.”
As well as slurs relating to race or sexuality, it also bans crime scene or accident photos, execution videos and gratuitous portrayals of bodily fluids or waste.
The search engine recently came under fire for the large amount of pornographic content displayed when using the search term “lesbian”.
A French campaign led by @SEO_lesbienne and Numerama found that only the word ‘lesbienne’ linked to sexualised pages, whereas searching for ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ displayed Wikipedia pages, articles and specialised blogs.
Google France has now taken steps to change its algorithm to address the problem. The site’s vice president of search engine quality said: “I find that these [search] results are terrible, there is no doubt about it.
“We are aware that there are problems like this, in many languages and different researches. We have developed algorithms to improve this research, one after the other.”
He noted Google’s prior issues with the words ‘girl’ and ‘teen,’ which also linked to porn sites before algorithm changes were made.