STAFF at a Canadian garden centre were left in stitches last week after Facebook blocked a photo of onions for being "overtly sexual".
The offending image, posted to the official Facebook page of Gaze Seed Company, showed a handful of white onions placed in a wicker basket.
But after one of the shop's 10,000 page members reported the snap as inappropriate to Facebook, the California tech titan swooped into action.
"So we just got notified by Facebook that the photo used for our Walla Walla Onion seed is 'Overtly Sexual'," Gaze's wrote on its official Facebook page on Saturday.
"[The photo] therefore cannot be advertised to be sold on their platform… [laughing emoji] Can you see it? Bunch of dirty minds over there."
The company, based in Newfoundland, posted the comments alongside the photo in question, as well as a screengrab of Facebook's response.
Facebook polices offensive content on its platform using a mix of human moderators and artificial intelligence.
If someone reports an image, the photo is scanned by algorithms which determine whether or not it breaks the app's terms of service.
In many cases, the content is removed without a moderator ever laying eyes on it. The system is fairly accurate, but not perfect.
In the case of Gaze's post, it appears robot content checkers presumed it featured far lewder material than mere onions.
"Listings may not position products or services in a sexually suggestive manner," an automated message sent to the firm by Facebook read.
The company did not elaborate on what, exactly, was deemed sexual.
“We got notified the other day that it’s an ‘overtly sexual image’ that they had to ban from the site,” Gaze manager Jackson McLean told CBC.
"I guess something about the two round shapes there could be misconstrued as boobs or something, nude in some way.”
It was a minor inconvenience for whoever runs the account, but at least fans of The Seed Company were able to see the funny side.
One Facebook user commented under the post: "Onions? I have seen some posts of carrots that might be questionable."
Why does it feel like Facebook is snooping on you?
Here’s what you need to know…
- The magic of targeted advertising is that it should feel relevant to you – even if you can't figure out why.
- Facebook doesn't need to spy on your real-life conversations, because you hand over so much information anyway.
- Follow this link and you'll be able to download everything Facebook knows about you. Most of you will quickly realise it's a staggering amount of information.
- Advertisers can use information gleaned from your activity all across the web, on multiple devices, even if you're not logged into Facebook or other services.
- They'll likely know where you live, what you like, who your friends are, how much money you make, your political beliefs and much more.
- So when you get ads for something you've talked about out loud, it's almost certainly just advertisers being very good at predicting your interests.
- It's also possible that there's an advertising campaign running, and you've seen an ad and not noticed. You've then spoken about it, never realising you've been advertised to, and only then notice future ads – which suddenly seem suspicious.
- Let's say you talked about a holiday to Scotland, and then all of a sudden you're being advertised holidays to Scotland.
- You may never have searched for anything to do with that before.
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- What seems like snooping is actually just clever advertising.
Another wrote: "Wow. I see more half naked people while scrolling but actual onions…hilarious. you can't make this stuff up!"
Others chimed in with their own frustrating experiences with Facebook's less-than-perfect moderation tools.
"I’m 70 and have had three posts removed for the most silliest of reasons, one was a funny post about garlic!" one commenter wrote.
They added: "And, yet, I see some of the most hateful posts on Facebook daily."
It's not clear whether Facebook has rescinded its ban on the photo, or whether The Seed Company has tried posting it again.
Facebook told The Sun it was investigating the incident.
In other news, it recently emerged that the Facebook app on iPhone secretly used your camera while you scroll through your feed.
Instagram removed 1.6million disturbing photos and videos depicting suicide and self-harm last year.
And, Facebook moderators are becoming addicted to extreme clips after viewing 500 gruesome posts per day.
What do you think of Facebook's onion mishap? Let us know in the comments!
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