FACEBOOK has issued an apology after a local history group was warned it faced axing from the social media platform for ongoing discussions about faggots and peas.

Admins of the Pensnett, Brierley Hill and Black Country Now and Then group on Facebook warned members they faced having their posts deleted and that the group itself could be shut down following repeated so-called breaches of the platform's community standards.

The word faggots raised alarm bells and prompted warnings from the California based tech company as the term is widely used in a derogative way about gay people in the US.

Dudley South MP Mike Wood branded the censorship "ludicrous" and swiftly sent off a letter to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to "call on him to lift this daft threat and make sure the group can carry on" and to explain a little more about the local Black Country delicacy of faggots which are traditionally hand-made with offal by butchers and served with mashed potatoes and peas.

He invited him to try it if he is ever in Brierley Hill and said: "There is nothing homophobic, discriminatory or hateful about faggots and peas."

Facebook, however, has since issued a response after our exclusive story began making national news headlines and a company spokesperson said: "Our systems clearly made a mistake here and we apologise to users whose posts about this local delicacy were affected.

"We're looking into what happened and we are taking steps to rectify the error."

Admin Linda Beech, aged 64, from Bromley, told the media the prospect of losing her Facebook group over the faggots and peas row had been "devastating".

The gran-of-eight also uses the page to raise money for local charities and said their fundraising efforts would suffer it were closed down.

She said: "The word faggot has been used in entirely the right context on the group. It is regarding a traditional Black Country food that has been around for years.

"The powers that be are saying we've used it as a homosexuality meaning, but it's just simply not the case.

"It just upsets me and makes me angry that our Black Country heritage and ways are being taken away from us. It is our heritage and culture.

"Our grandparents and great grandparents used that word; it is only modern-day life that has come up with the other meaning and its from the USA anyway.

"It is just disgusting, none of it has been written out of context it's been used properly. It is totally devastating.

"The group has been going for five years and it now has almost 14,000 members.

"But this group is a lifesaver for some of the members as some people are elderly and have lost touch with friends, school friends or relatives and in this group, they have found each other again.

"There are elderly and lonely people on there and they like reminiscing."

She told how after being given an ultimatum by Facebook that she'd had to delete and block one of its admins Roy Martin for use of the word and she said: "Roy is 76-years-old and his knowledge of bridges and canals is second to none.

"I had to delete him, block him and remove him off the group to save the group."

Linda raises money for charity by selling Black Country memorabilia on the page and the group helps raise funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital, Action for Children, the Duncan Edwards Foundation and animal charity Ravens Rescue.

Linda added: "For the last four years now I have been selling calendars and masks - anything to do with the Black Country I have sold it.

"In total, we have raised £5,500 over the last four years.

"The group is my world really because all my children have grown up and all flown the nest so it is just me and my husband.

"So I started it five years ago and it is something that keeps my brain ticking over.

"It keeps me occupied. And I have also made so many friends because of it.

"The group has been a saving grace through lockdown and I get as much out of the group as what our members do.

"Losing Roy has really upset the group as well."

She said the last few days had been a "nightmare" with sleepless nights and, even after Facebook's apology issued to the media, she added: "The problem is, we don't seem to be out of the woods yet as this morning we are still receiving reports from Facebook for the use of the word. So naturally we are still treading on eggshells at the moment."

Brockmoor and Pensnett councillor John Martin said of the drama: "Admin Linda Beech has put a lot of hard work into the history group that she has run.

"It is very informative and interesting and in particular during the lockdown, more and more people have accessed the site and found stories about local history.

"I wouldn't want them to lose out really because Facebook protocols have intercepted something which is offensive towards one community.

"But it forms part of the heritage and traditional foods of the Black Country so Facebook needs to adjust their protocols so they are able to reflect regional variations really.

"The fact that Facebook has flagged it shows on one hand that the protocols are working, they just need to understand in the Black Country as far as faggots are concerned it is a traditional meal.

"It is not offensive in the slightest and that will be fairly obvious."

Brierley Hill councillor Serena Craigie added: "I do think once people know about faggots and peas that people will realise it's not a derogatory term.

"The Facebook site has a lot going for it and it is quite well known in the area. But Facebook is an American site as well and people within that region are learning about a region's culture etc.

"Once it is explained any normal rational person, they will realise that it's nothing more than a traditional Black Country meal."