Gardening Group on Facebook Hit With Repeated Violations Over the Word 'Hoe'

"A hoe is a gardening tool," a member of the Facebook group WNY Gardeners said.

Gardening is the No. 1 outdoor leisure activity of all households in the United States, and the women behind one Facebook gardening club are very serious about the pastime. So you can imagine their shock when their group, WNY Gardeners, was censored by Facebook.

Susan Esther explained that the push pull hoe is one of her most used tools. “One of my favorite tools in the garden is called a push pull hoe. Easy for weeding, it’s awesome,” she told Inside Edition.

When she posted a comment containing the name of the tool, however, Facebook seemed to mistaken it for a derogatory term that sounds the same and flagged the tool.

“As far as I know, it was immediately deleted,” Esther said after she received the Facebook violation accusing her of harassment and bullying.

"At first we just laughed,” the group’s co-administrator Elizabeth Licata told Inside Edition. “We thought it was ridiculous, which it was.”

But the group, based in New York with more than 7,800 members, was censored once again for using the gardening term.

“I contacted Facebook at that point, saying this is a gardening group,” she explained. “A hoe is a gardening tool.”

But Facebook continued to send violations for various terms common around the garden. Another word that had them flagged was “kill,” which was being used in discussions concerning critters around the garden.

“Don’t torture the poor people moderating the Facebook group,” she said.

Facebook has since apologized to the gardening group.

“In this case, we corrected the errors we made and put an extra check in place before the group would be considered for deletion. We have plans to build out better customer support for our products and to provide the public with even more information about our policies and how we enforce them," a spokesperson with Facebook told Inside Edition.

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