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French town Ville de Bitche's Facebook page removed 'in error'

The French town of Ville de Bitche, which had its official Facebook page removed in March, was restored to the social media site Friday, with the company saying the page was removed in error. Photo by Hadrian/Shutterstock.com
The French town of Ville de Bitche, which had its official Facebook page removed in March, was restored to the social media site Friday, with the company saying the page was removed "in error." Photo by Hadrian/Shutterstock.com

April 13 (UPI) -- The French town of Ville de Bitche had its official Facebook page removed in what the social media site said was an "error" apparently based on the name's proximity to an English insult.

Ville de Bitche Mayor Benoit Kieffer said the town's official Facebook page was removed from the site March 19, when officials received a message saying it was "in violation of conditions applying to Facebook pages."

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Kieffer said the town attempted to appeal the decision, but never received a response from Facebook.

"At first, you wonder, was there a technical problem? However, with the length of time, it can be considered a real censorship," the mayor told CNN.

Facebook said Tuesday morning the town's page was restored and had been "removed in error."

Kieffer said town officials believe the error stemmed from the word "Bitche" being similar in spelling to an insulting English-language profanity. He said an artificial intelligence program likely flagged the town's name as a rules violation.

"We can be happy that social networks take responsibility, that they remove illegal, problematic content," Kieffer said. "But the other problem is to consider that the human gaze has the upper hand on artificial intelligence."

The mayor extended an invitation to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to visit the town and "discover our pretty fortified city that has distinguished itself in history on several occasions."

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