Facebook removes French town's official page because of its 'offensive' name 


    Below is Bitche Mayor Benoît Kieffer’s full statement translated from French.

    Facebook had censored our City of Bitche page.

    We have appealed and attempted to contact Facebook through various means, including through contact forms and private messages on the Facebook France page.

    On March 19, Facebook informed us that our Town of Bitche page was no longer published, on the grounds that it was ‘in violation of the terms applicable to Facebook pages’. 

    The city’s Facebook page was hosted in a data center located in Europe and in a hypothetical, we assume that our page has migrated to an Anglo-Saxon server which has set up moderations and algorithms that remove illegal and problematic content. 

    The name of our city seemed to suffer from a misinterpretation.

    I accept that Facebook will put in place locks, police, comply with the prescriptions of the European Union, which intends to domesticate GAFA and better supervise practices, in particular in application of the 2020 European ‘Digital Service Act’ regulation.

    That Facebook gives pledges, takes responsibility, justifies its content and today plays its role of moderator and regulator of its social network.

    What happened to the town of Bitche demonstrates the insufficiency and the limits of the moderation tools that only a human eye can appreciate, especially with regard to the verification of sources.

    The amazing thing is that it lasted and that Facebook took so long to correct this incident.

    The CEO of Facebook France has just contacted me personally to inform me that the page for the town of Bitche has been published again and to apologise for the inconvenience that may have been caused.

    Today I send two invitations:

    – The first, to the Facebook ‘institution’: that of being transparent, but also, by obligation, to be an intelligent and fair tool

    – The second, I humbly address it to Mr. Mark ZUCKERBERG and to Mr. General President of Facebook France, whom I would be pleased, along with my fellow citizens, to welcome at Bitche to make them discover our pretty fortified city which has been illustrated in history at several times, but also to honor together, with them, the memory of the compatriots and of our American friends who, under the banner of the 100th Infantry Division, came, from South Carolina, liberate our city; our liberators who are then themselves named, with pride, the ‘Sons of Bitche’

    Benoît Kieffer 

    Maire de Bitche       


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