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Trash Dove is spamming its way across the internet. While #Saltbae and “Cash me Ousside” started the new year on a mostly innocent run of memes, the purple floppy-headed cartoon dove is taking over comment threads across Facebook— and many people are asking for it to be banned.
What is Trash Dove?
Trash Dove was created by artist Syd Weiler, who submitted her drawings to Apple for consideration in the iOS 10 sticker store back in September. It became a hit on the app store and was syndicated by Facebook, where its popularity exploded.
Thailand was the first country to start using the set of bird memes. Its popularity in the country may derive from the Thai word for bird, nok, which also means someone hopelessly single or suffering from unrequited love.
Why do people want it banned?
The internet sensation took on a whole new meaning when it landed in the U.S. last weekend.
New York Times/Facebook
Like any viral image, Trash Dove is the subject of countless memes and videos, but it’s in the comment section where the headbanging purple bird loses its playfulness.
The sticker and its memes are being used on Facebook to spam comment sections to detract from their subject matter. The Verge points out that a single New York Times post was Trash Doved 92 times.
That has led to numerous requests to ban the meme altogether and free up the internet as a place for public discourse again. But what can Facebook do about this dove infestation?
Can Facebook ban Trash Dove?
Facebook can absolutely limit the use of the meme on its site, and it wouldn’t be the first time. Last June, we reported that Facebook started censoring the flaming goose meme—an illusion that made it appear as though a goose’s head was on fire. To view the meme, Facebook users had to click through a screen that read, “This photo was hidden because it shows mature content, such as graphic violence.”
There obviously isn’t anything graphic about a cartoon dove, but Facebook will remove an image if it is used in a way that breaches the social media giant’s community standards rules.
Trash Dove is in a unique position because it’s not only a meme but a sticker pack that can be downloaded directly from Facebook. The social media giant could always get rid of those stickers, but going after every comment that includes them could be beyond its reach.
Will Facebook ban the meme?
Maybe, but probably not.
Some users claim they have already been punished for “abusing features” and received a 24-hour ban on using stickers.
If that’s true, it would be a sneaky but effective way for Facebook to limit spamming.
But there are a few reasons we think Trash Dove will remain on Facebook comment pages until the next fad takes over: Nothing in Facebook’s community standards rules directly applies to spamming comment pages with non-abusive images (especially with one of Facebook’s own stickers). Pepe the Frog, a meme now on the Anti-Defamation League’s list of hate symbols isn’t banned, and Facebook doesn’t change its mind simply based on the number of reports it receives.
Facebook could always remove the stickers from its store if it feels they are being abused or somehow starts to hurt its business.
For now, the set of purple bird stickers is just a few Valentine’s Day images from the top of the featured list.
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.
Phillip Tracy is a former technology staff writer at the Daily Dot. He's an expert on smartphones, social media trends, and gadgets. He previously reported on IoT and telecom for RCR Wireless News and contributed to NewBay Media magazine. He now writes for Laptop magazine.