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Stalking Show falls foul of Facebook algorithms

If an exhibitor’s name contains a ‘forbidden word’, it is flagged up by Facebook and Instagram.

The country’s largest stalking trade show has had its Instagram page disabled and its Facebook page put at risk of closure due to new social media restrictions. 

The Stalking Show and other legitimate sporting businesses have suffered with words such as “gun”, “rifle” and “ammunition” being flagged up by Facebook and Instagram algorithms. 

Meta — the parent company of Facebook and Instagram — says in its policy documents that users are allowed to make posts pertaining to firearms and ammunition sales so long as they are “representing legitimate brick-and-mortar entities”. The Stalking Show itself and all 250 trade stands conform to these regulations and organisers claim they are being unfairly targeted.

Deanne Freer, organiser of the Stalking Show, told ST: “Once your post is taken down and you are told your page is at risk of being permanently disabled, you have an option to appeal the decision, but there is only a drop down with no options that are relevant. 

“If we tag or write a company name in a post and it has a forbidden word within the name, it puts us at risk. In a nutshell, a computer decides your fate with no investigation or care if you are a legitimate company operating within the law or not.”

This issue bears strong similarities to the ongoing debanking scandal that has hit the fieldsports community.