Facebook bans French city for weeks because the name sounds like a swear word

The social network Facebook has blocked the account of the French Moselle city Bitsch (In French: Bitche) and declared the move to be a violation of the applicable terms of use. According to media reports, it was because of the name of the city.

The word “Bitche” sounded thus probably a bit too much like the English swear word “Bitch”, a derogatory term for women. The site is said to have been blocked on March 19.

Only after reports of the Facebook suspension spread, the social network quickly restored the Ville de Bitche page. The tech giant blamed their algorithm.

The mayor, Benoît Kieffer, said in a post: “The name of our town seems to suffer from a bad interpretation … the most astonishing thing is that Facebook took so long to correct this. The president/director general of Facebook France has just contacted me personally to tell me the Ville de Bitche page is published again and to apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

The city administration reportedly appealed and tried to contact Facebook in various ways. It even got a new Facebook account – with the name “Mairie 57230” after her zip code . The account was only activated again after weeks.

The neighboring municipality of Rohrbach-lès-Bitche also decided to change their name on Facebook as a precautionary measure. Now it is called “Ville de Rohrbach”.


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