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Bitche what? Facebook removes official page of French town because it is called Bitche

An official page of a French town was removed from the social media platform because of its name

twitter-logoAnkita Chakravarti | April 15, 2021 | Updated 16:33 IST

Highlights

  • Facebook had removed the official page of a French town.
  • The page was removed because it was called Ville de Bitche.
  • The residents initially thought the page was removed due to some technical error but later discovered that it was the name.

Be careful with what you name something because Facebook might find it inappropriate and remove it too. An official page of a French town was removed from the social media platform, not because it had violated any law but because it had a name that Facebook did not seem to like too much. The residents discovered that the official page of their town is named "Ville de Bitche" no longer existed on Facebook. Not Bitch, but Bitche.

The Facebook page of Bitche was taken down on March 19. The Mayer of the town said that he had received a message from the social media company, informing him about the removal of the page. The residents initially thought the page was removed due to some technical error but later discovered that it was the name.

"We received a Facebook message, and we also noticed that it was missing," Benoît Kieffer, mayor of Ville de Bitche, told CNN. "At first, you wonder, was there a technical problem? However, with the length of time, it can be considered real censorship," he said.

After the removal of the page, the residents of the town created another page on Facebook with a different name. However, the original page was restored soon after Facebook realized its error. It was restored at about 10.30 a.m. (4.30 a.m. ET) on Tuesday.

Facebook in the FAQ page states that pages on social media platforms should be accurate and should not contain abusive phrases. This didn't seem like a human error, this could have been the doing of Artificial intelligence.

Kieffer expressed his happiness over getting the account back but said that the human gaze is better and more affected than artificial intelligence. "We can be happy that social networks take responsibility, that they remove illegal, problematic content, but the other problem is to consider that the human gaze has the upper hand on artificial intelligence," he told CNN.

Another French town with the name Rohrbach-lès-Bitche changed its name to Ville de Rohrbach on April 12 to prevent its official page from going off Facebook. ""As a precaution, so that our page is not suspended, since it can last several weeks or even months, we preferred to avoid any problem and remove 'Les-Bitche' next to Rohrbach, obviously temporarily, until this misunderstanding with Facebook can be resolved," the town's mayor, Vincent Seitlinger, told a Radio company.

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