Has Facebook banned Effin for being obscene or offensive?

Summary:Ann Marie Kennedy is fighting Facebook to recognize her hometown of Effin, Ireland. It's unclear if the company considers the name obscene, offensive, or if this is just a misunderstanding.

When Ann Marie Kennedy of Effin, Ireland tried setting her hometown on her Facebook account, she found she could not do it. At first glance, it looks like the company may have blacklisted the word for being obscene or offensive, at least that's what Kennedy thinks. A closer look suggests it's also possible the social networking giant is just not recognizing the small village.

The former reason could be justified because in English, the term 'effing' is often considered a contraction of the word "f**k". Still, Kennedy was not referring to the F word but simply wanted to list the village she's from. She thus set up a Facebook Page titled "Please get my hometown Effin recognized" with the following description, according to JOE:

I would like to be able to put Effin down on my own profile page and so would many other people around the world who proudly say that they are from Effin – but it wouldn't recognise that. It keeps coming up as Effingham, Illinois; Effingham, New Hampshire; and it gives suggestions of other places. It will recognise Limerick but I'm not from Limerick city, I'm from Effin. I'm a proud Effin woman. And I always will be an Effin woman.

Facebook disregarded her Page. The company's systems may have been detecting that Kennedy was annoyed her effin town was not being recognized rather than the fact she was annoyed her town Effin was not being recognized.

Still, I don't think Facebook has an outright ban on the word in question. A quick search on Facebook shows that the "effin" is used frequently on the social network. There are both profiles and Pages on the site referring to people and businesses using the Effin name. Furthermore, there are lots of Pages that are obviously referring to the f word; here are the first five I found:

I EFFIN HATE ADOBE FLASH I 'EFFIN HATE IT WHEN THE GUY YOU LIKE WONT TALK TO YOU I EFFIN HATE Grumpy Cashiers That Tlk Back In A Bitchy Way!!! I Effin Hate lady gaga Hollywood Undead is the effin BOMB!!!!

Kennedy says she tried to voice her concern to Facebook, but hasn't managed to get the company's attention. I have contacted Facebook regarding this issue and will update this article if I hear back.

Update: "From time to time we are alerted to oversights such as this in our mapping system," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "We will look to correct it to ensure places like Effin can be ‘liked’ on Facebook." He also noted Facebook has not banned people from talking about the village of Effin, the company doesn't think that Effin is offensive, and people are free to create pages talking about Effin, contrary to reports that say otherwise.

See also:

Topics: Social Enterprise

About

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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