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No help for Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps after Facebook profile blocked

Mayor Lisa Helps says Facebook mistakenly blocked her profile because her name, which is her real name, did not meet the social media service’s name policy.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps says Facebook mistakenly blocked her Facebook page because of her name.

Twitter: @LisaHelps

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps says Facebook mistakenly blocked her Facebook page because of her name.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps says she is frustrated after getting no help from Facebook last week when the social media service mistakenly blocked her account because of her name.

The mayor says she tried to log onto her Facebook account on May 20 only to be met with a message that her profile had been blocked because the name she had chosen— her real name— did not meet the social media service’s name policy.

“It was kind of bizarre,” Helps told Metro. “I’ve been on Facebook almost since Facebook started and I’ve always used my real name.”

Worried that her account had been hacked, Helps said she contacted Facebook twice to request that her profile be restored but received no response.

Helps finally managed to re-open her account using her first and middle name, Jennifer. Still, Facebook wouldn’t allow her to use her last name, she said.

On Monday, Facebook finally restored her profile and apologized for erroneously blocking her account.

While she appreciates the apology, Helps said the lengthy process to get her profile restored was frustrating considering she uses Facebook as a tool to communicate with constituents.

She said the ordeal became especially annoying when critics accused her of taking down her Facebook profile because they claimed she couldn’t handle negative feedback.

While she’s still not sure why her account was blocked, Helps said the experience was eye opening to the challenges that some people have to deal with on Facebook.

She said she has been flooded with comments from people in the transgender community who have had their accounts blocked after changing their names.

For transgender people that are still in the process of transitioning, she said they might not have a birth certificate or ID with their new name to prove their identity.

“Trans people have a very challenging time,” she said. “For me, it was probably some kind of political shenanigans or some algorithm kicking in, but for other people it has a very real impact on who they are and how they live in the world.”

Helps said she hopes the social media service can learn from the incident and be more sensitive to members of the LGBTQ community.

“Who you are might not be what our birth certificate says,” she said. “This is an opportunity for Facebook to be more welcoming.”

With files from The Canadian Press.

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