INDEPENDENT NEWS

Facebook apologises for removing 'drag king's' content

Published: Tue 12 Feb 2019 04:47 PM
Anusha Bradley, Reporter
Facebook says the deletion of more than 100 events posted by a Wellington drag king and events organiser Hugo Grrrl was the result of "an error".
Hugo Grrrl, also known as George Fowler, was "devastated" after Facebook deleted this events. Photo: RNZ / Supplied
Hugo Grrrl, also known as George Fowler, said he was "devastated" after losing hours of work and thousands of dollars when Facebook deleted the events on Saturday afternoon because they had been reported as inappropriate content.
"None of them were inappropriate ... some were daring and risqué, but definitely not profane, offensive or hurtful," he said.
He believed he was the target of a spam attack and said attempts to get answers from Facebook had been unsuccessful.
"We tried every possible avenue to contact Facebook but it wasn't until RNZ contacted their PR team on Sunday evening that we got a message asking us for more detail. But since then no one has been in contact."
Facebook said it had investigated the incident.
"We detected an error which blocked this page from posting events. We have removed the block therefore content should now be able to be posted," a Facebook Australia and New Zealand spokesperson said in a statement to RNZ.
A Facebook spokesperson later stated: "Due to an automated error, we mistakenly removed Events that do not violate our policies. The events should now be able to be posted. We apologise for any inconvenience this error may have caused."
None of the original events deleted had been reinstated however, George Fowler said.
As he advertised solely on Facebook he was worried how the loss of the events would impact upon his business.
"It's by and far the main way we communicate with our patrons and community.
"Some of the events had been up for a year and we had been working on them for over a year. It's how we run our business.
A Pledge Me campaign started this morning to pay for alternative advertising had since raised thousands of dollars.
"That will help pay for the already enormous staff overtime my team has clocked and advertising costs as we play fast and furious catch up to try and regain all that lost ground."
"They money will also help compensate for what we anticipate will be a drop in the coming months because of this," Mr Fowler said.
He was not sure who was behind the spam attack but was trying to find out.
"I hate to think that this could have been someone we know. We just recently made the decision to ban stag dos because they cause anarchy at our events. So it could be a response from that?"
"But don't know who it is, but we are working with Police and Netsafe to secure ourselves to prevent this happening again in the future," he said.
RNZ
New Zealand's public broadcaster, providing comprehensive NZ news and current affairs, specialist audio features and documentaries.
Radio New Zealand is a Crown entity established under the Radio New Zealand Act 1995. Radio New Zealand News are vital elements in our programming, providing impartial news and information to New Zealanders every day. Radio New Zealand (RNZ) provides listeners with exciting and independent radio programmes in accordance with the Radio New Zealand Charter.

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