Rita, 81, is grunted a reprieve over 'hate speech' piggy posts

Facebook has told an 81-year-old Shropshire widow that there's snout wrong with her piggy posts – after she says she was threatened with being banned for "hate speech."

Rita has been knitting the pigs to help get over the grief after losing her husband
Rita has been knitting the pigs to help get over the grief after losing her husband

Pig-loving Mrs Rita Rich-Mulcahy, an expatriate Salopian now living in Australia, has a Facebook page - facebook.com/rita.rich.73 - devoted to the woollen pigs she knits, but barely before the oink was dry on a couple of pig-related posts she says she was warned not to trotter out any more, otherwise she would be permanently barred.

Rita, who lives in a retirement village south of Adelaide, said: "Facebook obviously use a bot to trawl around Facebook and I had made two comments, totally innocent, which the bot saw as hate speech.

"One was on February 1 when a friend in Shrewsbury posted 'white rabbits, white rabbits' as it was the first of the month. And I said 'No, white pigs, white pigs!' Everyone on the knit site and my page knows I am a porcophile. The second time was when I posted a picture and I said 'hi-viz piggy.'

'Hamplify' – one of Rita's knitted woollen pigs

"Now I have two strikes against me with no way to appeal. So the bot will watch everything I type now. It is ludicrous. If I ditch Facebook I would lose my great connection with my Shropshire friends."

But in a twist to the tale, Facebook says: “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.”

Rita, who hails originally from Coalbrookdale and is the daughter of a former Mayor of the Borough of Wenlock, Joe Rich (Joseph Rich Avenue in Madeley is named in his honour) emigrated to Australia to teach European languages and art in 1965.

Rita's Facebook site

"I married John Mulcahy, an engineer, here in Oz. He passed away a year ago. I joined a knitting group on Facebook when I lost my husband as a way of dealing with my grief and set myself a target of knitting 100 small pigs, each being a play on pig-related words, as in Pigcasso, Francis Bacon, Hamlet, Hamplify, and so on. I am up to 79! The series is called pigtales and I call the pigs Wittyknits."

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

Rita, who lived in Strethill Road and later Woodside, Coalbrookdale, added: "I have always loved pigs and grew up next door to a field of pigs owned by neighbour, Joe Cox the milkman. I always drew pigs when a little child."

'Hamadeus'

After her posts were restored by Facebook, she added: "You have made an old lady very happy today. 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."

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