Facebook warns widow, 81, her knitted-pig posts are hate speech

Max Stephens
·2 min read
Rita Rich-Mulcahy, 81, has knitted 73 five-inch high woollen pigs
Rita Rich-Mulcahy, 81, has knitted 73 five-inch high woollen pigs

A 81-year-old widow was threatened by Facebook with a permanent ban from the site after her posts about knitted ‘white pigs’ fell foul of hate speech rules.

Mrs Rita Rich-Mulcahy, a self-avowed “porcophile”, had set up a Facebook page devoted to her knitted woollen pigs after the death of her husband last year.

However, the retired teacher from Shropshire drew the ire of Facebook after commenting “white pigs” on a picture about rabbits and captioning a photo of one of her creations with “high-viz pigs”.

Facebook deleted her two posts and threatened to permanently bar her from the site for “hate speech”.

Mrs Rich-Mulcahy said: “Facebook obviously uses a bot to trawl around Facebook and I had made two comments, totally innocent, which the bot saw as hate speech.

“Everyone on the knitting site and my page knows I am a porcophile.

“It may seem a small thing to most people, but to someone who had never even had an overdue library book, being charged with using hate speech was frightening,” she added.

Facebook has since restored the two posts and apologised for their overzealous actions commenting “it was a mistake”.

Mrs Rich-Mulcahy, who lives in a retirement home in Adelaide, South Australia, had joined a knitting group on Facebook to cope with the death of her husband John in 2020.

So far she has knitted 73 out of the planned 100 five-inch high woollen pigs, giving them names such as Pigcasso, Francis Bacon, and Hamlet.

She plans to use the woollen pigs to raise money for The Smith Family, a charity which helps disadvantaged Australian children to create better futures through education.

In a statement Facebook said : “Our systems made a mistake here and the comments have now been reinstated. We do sometimes make mistakes when reviewing content, which is why we give people the opportunity to appeal against our decisions.”