The Norfolk waterway that is too rude for Facebook

Waterlilly on Cockshoot Dyke. Picture: James Bass Photography

A waterlily on Cockshoot Dyke which has fallen foul of Facebook controls. - Credit: JAMES BASS PHOTOGRAPHY

A social network's algorithms have filtered mention of a perfectly innocent Norfolk waterway.

A post about tranquil Cockshoot Dyke was removed by Facebook because it goes against community standards and constitutes "hate speech".

Cockshoot Dyke has fallen foul of Facebook filters

Facebook filters took issue with mention of Cockshoot Dyke on its platform leading the community page's administrators to spell it out with spaces in between. - Credit: supplied by Steve Burgess

Steve Burgess, a businessman and administrator on the Facebook page Love the Norfolk Broads said the issue arose when a member posted she had moored along the popular stretch, the old entrance to Cockshoot Broad.

Her reference combing the words cock, shoot, and dyke was promptly removed by automatic filters, a notification citing both violence and sexual content as the reason.

Mr Burgess who runs two fishing tackle shops, a gift shop, and boat hire at Womack Staithe, Ludham, said he saw the funny side.

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The combination of the words cock, shoot and dyke as in Cockshoot Dyke has triggered a red flag on Facebook. Pictured is Cockshoot Broad. - Credit: Richard Osbourne


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"It is quite common," he said. "It's a daily occurrence.

"In this case they have put two and  two together and got 58.

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"You've  got to laugh."

"It is a bit Big Brother-ish," he said. "But it does make sense.

"When you think of the millions of people using it, it is the only way it can be done," he said.

The 61-year-old said people talking about fishing spots often fell foul of the filters, and that he had been banned from posting pictures for 24 hours for bullying himself.

"A picture of me was posted and I commented that I looked fat and was banned," he said.

Orange Tip - Cockshoot Broad - Barry Madden

Cockshoot Broad is a haven for wildlife but a dyke of the same name has been tagged 'hate speech' by Facebook. - Credit: Archant

Mr Burgess said much of the misunderstanding arose because Facebook algorithms were based on American English which didn't recognise the peculiarities of British place names.

To get round the issue on the page he spelled out the name using spaces between each letter.

"The irony is," he added. "You see so much that is really obscene or violent or sexual but nothing is done."

People commenting suggested it should be called "The waterway that shall not be named" while admitting it did give them "a giggle".

Plymouth Hoe and Devil’s Dyke in Sussex have reportedly also fallen foul of the automated system.

Other people have since been able to post about Cockshoot suggesting some users are more prone to censorship than others depending on their history.

Cockshoot Dyke offers around 15 free moorings and is popular with boaters and anglers.

Other places that sound a bit rude 

A scan around the county reveals Facebook could have a field day if it were feeling particularly easily offended.

From Balls Lane in Fakenham to Booty Road in Norwich, Norfolk has its fair share of rude street names.

Notable mentions go to Three Holes, a hamlet on the Norfolk and Cambridgeshire border and Two Mile Bottom campsite near Thetford and Stiffkey.

But top honours have to go to Slutshole Lane, Besthorpe, Cock Street and Hooker Road in Norwich, Dick's Mount in Beccles, and Trumpery Lane in Norwich.





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