A GAY MP who was described as a “greasy bender” on social media has questioned a Facebook whistleblower over whether the platform is “evil”.

John Nicolson, SNP MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, was addressing Frances Haughen during a session of a joint committee looking into the government’s Draft Online Safety Bill when he revealed the insult.

Ms Haughen sounded the alarm when she released tens of thousands of internal Facebook documents detailing the company’s failure to keep its users safe from harmful content. She previously worked for the company.

Mr Nicolson used the anecdote to question whether social media platforms do enough to tackle hatred and insults online, and the differences in UK and US English which may be lost in translation.

He said: “ On the social front, you pointed out that there might be differences between the United Kingdom and the United States it's not picking up.

“I've personally experienced this on Twitter where – I am a gay man - was called a ‘greasy bender’ and I reported it. Twitter got back and told me that there's nothing wrong with being called a greasy bender.

“I wrote back giving the exact a chapter and verse from their community standards which showed it was unacceptable, and somebody wrote back to me, presumably from California, telling me that it was absolutely acceptable.”

Mr Nicolson asked what should be done to tackle similar discrepancies, to which Ms Haughen replied that “bad actors” had already tested the limitations of Facebook, and played around with content to find out what kind of posts would be promoted and receive the most attention on the platform.

She added: “The only one who doesn't know Facebook's limitation, are good actors. Facebook needs to disclose what its integrity systems are and in which languages they work in, and the performance per language, or per dialect, because I guarantee you it's safety systems that are designed for English, probably don't work as well on UK English versus American English.”

Mr Nicolson then asked Ms Haughen if she believed Facebook was “evil”, to which she responded: “I cannot see into the hearts of men.”

She said that Facebook was “overwhelmingly full of conscientious, kind, empathetic people who are embedded in systems with bad incentive…and there is a real pattern of people who are willing to look the other way are promoted more than people who raise alarms.”

The whistleblower told MPs that “Anger and hate is the easiest way to grow on Facebook” and added that data had shown it was “easier to provoke people to anger, than empathy or compassion”.

She said: “We are literally subsidising hate on these platforms. It is substantially cheaper to run an angry hateful divisive ad than it is to run a compassionate, empathetic ad.”

Asked about the protection for children, Ms Haughen said social media allowed bullies to effectively follow young people home after school and they were unable to get a break from it.

She also voiced concerns about the Facebook-owned Instagram platform, saying she was not convinced that it was possible it could be a safe space for children.

She explained: “Children don’t have as good self regulation as adults do, that’s why they’re not allowed to buy cigarettes.

“When kids describe their usage of Instagram, Facebook’s own research describes it as ‘an addict’s narrative’.

“The kids say ‘this makes me unhappy, I don’t have the ability to control my usage of it, and I feel if I left it would make me ostracised’.”

She continued: “I am deeply worried that it may not be possible to make Instagram safe for a 14-year-old and I sincerely doubt that it is possible to make it safe for a 10-year-old.”