Life is a Bitche for French town after Facebook page removed in error

The official Facebook page of the French town of Bitche was accidentally removed by the social network.

The small town, with a population of little more than 5,000, lies in the region of Moselle near the border with Germany.

It regularly communicates with citizens on social media. But since March 19, the town”s Facebook account had been blocked without explanation.

It was assumed that Facebook’s algorithm may have confused ‘Bitche’ (pronounced with a silent ‘e’) with an English insult.

The town’s authorities had created a new Facebook page named after the town’s postcode, “Mairie 57230” to maintain communications with local residents.

The official town page has been removed by Facebook,” the town said. “We have appealed, but for the moment it is still invisible.

“The appeal process can take several months, so we have created this page to continue communicating with you on social networks.”

The new Facebook page still features the name of the town as its avatar logo.

“I appealed on 19 March but [the page] hasn’t reappeared again,” Valérie Degouy, a spokesperson for Bitche, told local radio.

“I have tried every way to contact Facebook, through the different forms, but there is nothing more to do,” Degouy said, adding that she had encountered problems when she had first tried to create the town’s Facebook page.

Facebook confirmed to Euronews that the account had been unpublished due to an incorrect analysis by the platform’s systems.

The company added it had immediately investigated the issue. It said the page was restored on Tuesday morning.

“Facebook France teams have contacted authorities in the town of Bitche to inform them that the Facebook Page is live on our platform again.”

Other towns in the Moselle region, such as Rohrbach-lès-Bitche, have also renamed their social media pages to “Ville de Rohrbach” to avoid being removed.

“Far from the idea of us denying the name of our beautiful village, but we have to admit that Facebook seems to hunt the term associated with Rohrbach,” the town said.

“We will let you imagine the reason why,” it added.

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