December 5, 2023

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Facebook removes The Specials singer’s page ‘over skinhead links’

Neville StapleImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Neville Staple is a singer with the ska band The Specials

Facebook wrongly removed a page about The Specials in what band members think was a mistaken link to racism.

Band legend Neville Staple and wife and manager Christine were among hundreds of people affected as pages linked with skinheads were removed.

The couple believe algorithms linked the 1970s 2 Tone movement with racism, which they said was “the complete opposite of what we were about”.

Facebook said the accounts were “removed in error” and were reinstated.

Mr and Mrs Staple realised their accounts had been removed on Monday evening and said they were “astounded” when it emerged it was because they had been wrongly identified as racist.

Image caption

The Specials formed in Coventry in the 1970s

“We’re the 2 Tone era, we came about when racial tensions were nuts – a bit like what we’re going though now,” Christine, who also sings in The Specials, said.

“We were all about bringing black and white together.”

The couple said they believed Facebook was “generalising anyone associated with skinhead” – often linked with far-right ideology – and should apologise.

“They’ve clearly not looked into 2 Tone,” Mrs Staple said.

“It was all about change – we’ve got skinheads, rudies… a whole range of fans out there.”

Image caption

Neville and Christine ‘Sugary’ Staple both had their Facebook pages removed for about 24 hours

“It’s incredibly hurtful to be labelled racist,” said one fan who had her account suspended.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said her Facebook page was restored on Tuesday evening, but she accused the company of “blanket ignorance”.

“It’s all just assumption – I’ve not shared anything offensive, or derogatory and I openly condemn those who do share hateful messages.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for Facebook said the company was “reviewing what happened in this case and taking steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again”.

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