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Facebook mysteriously banned people from saying ‘#SaltBae’

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Facebook had blocked any mention of #SaltBae around the world after a controversy over one of his gold-encrusted steaks.

Anyone who had searched for the phrase during that time showed a message saying that it had violated community standards.

The company has now reversed the decision – but said it was not clear why the hashtag had been banned in the first place.

“We’ve unblocked this hashtag on Facebook and we’re investigating why this happened,” a spokesperson told Reuters, which first reported the story. It gave no information about why it had been blocked and did not comment on possible reasons

Salt Bae” is the popular name for celebrity chef Nusret Gökçe, who became an internet sensation in 2017 when a video showed him sprinkling seasoning on a steak.

Since he shot to fame, he has launched a number of restaurants to capitalise on that success. The most recent one arrived in London recently, and immediately brought controversy over its high-prices and extravagant food.

Last week, Vietnam’s minister of public security, To Lam, was filmed at that restaurant while in the UK to visit the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow. That video – showing the chef feeding the minister a gold encrusted steak – was then posted to Mr Gökçe’s official Twitter account.

The video caused outrage in Vietnam and beyond, amid questions over whether such a high-ranking official should be seen to be eating the expensive meal amid an ongoing corruption crackdown in the country.

Soon after the outrage developed, the video was removed from Mr Gökçe’s official TikTok account. Accounts that attempted to re-post had it removed under TikTok’s community standards, Reuters reported.

After that, however, Facebook did not simply ban the video but rather any use of the #SaltBae hashtag at all. The ban applied globally, not just in Vietnam.

Facebook did not comment on whether the Vietnamese government had requested the removal of the video, or any censorship of the hashtag.

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