A woman has reacted with fury after Facebook shut down the social media accounts of her business for using what she thought was an innocent word.
A woman has reacted with fury after Facebook shut down the social media accounts of her business for using what she thought was an innocent word.

‘Gobsmacked’: One word gets woman kicked off Facebook

A WOMAN'S innocent online search for a Mexican restaurant trading under a name that was controversial more than half a century ago resulted in her social media accounts being shut down.

Currumbin Valley clinical nutritionist Ebony Neumann was stunned that she should be singled out and punished for typing into her Facebook search bar "Lolita'' - the name of the Casuarina restaurant and also the title of a 1955 novel that had sparked a literary storm in 1955.

She believed her Facebook and Instagram accounts were frozen by Facebook, but the social networking giant has told the Bulletin her accounts were "compromised'' and it had restored her access to the accounts.

 

Currumbin Valley local Ebony Neumann says her Facebook and Instagram sites were shutdown because she searched for a Mexican restaurant using the word ‘Lolita’. Picture: Jerad Williams
Currumbin Valley local Ebony Neumann says her Facebook and Instagram sites were shutdown because she searched for a Mexican restaurant using the word ‘Lolita’. Picture: Jerad Williams

"I was searching for a nearby Mexican restaurant, Lolita's, and after typing this in Facebook instantly notified me that I had breached their 'Community Standards' and put my account under review," she said.

The incident occurred on Friday last week. After frantically searching for help, sending emails and making phone calls, she received another message from the social networking giant stating "we have already reviewed this decision and it can't be reversed".

Mrs Neumann told the Bulletin: "I feel this is so extreme and unfair considering my personal character, my history of Facebook use and my work which is devoted to helping women overcome their health challenges.

"Not having these accounts active is hurting my business and costing me customers."

 

A Facebook notice received by Ebony Neumann
A Facebook notice received by Ebony Neumann

 

Mrs Neumann said she relied on Facebook and Instagram for work leads and sharing information, facts and advice to her customers. Her search had led to immediate deactivation of her 6000-strong IG page and her personal Facebook account, leaving her unable to manage her Ebony Jane Health business page.

The word "Lolita'' was shrouded in controversy when it was used as the title of a 1955 novel written by Russian-American author Vladimir Nabokov, in which a middle-aged professor forms a sexual relationship with this 12-year-old stepdaughter, Dolores. His private nickname for her is Lolita.

Mrs Neumann said she researched the word and found many businesses with the name Lolita. She had been "gobsmacked" her social media accounts were gone, after pouring in years of work building them up. She had even paid Facebook for advertising in the past.

"I use Instagram more than Facebook and it's where I connect with women, and not having it is just as detrimental to them, especially during COVID when we've all spent more time connecting online," she said.

 

Ebony Neumann said she felt Facebook should not have shut down her sites for a week. Picture: Jerad Williams
Ebony Neumann said she felt Facebook should not have shut down her sites for a week. Picture: Jerad Williams

Facebook restored her access to the accounts after the Bulletin approached it for comment.

A Facebook company spokesperson told the Bulletin on Friday: "After this account was compromised, we worked to restore access to Ebony and ensure she can use her Facebook and Instagram accounts safely.

"We know that losing access to your account can be a distressing experience, and we continue to develop new tools to help people recover their accounts.

"We know we can do more here, and we're working hard to improve these systems and keep our community safe."

The incident has come at a time when social networking giants across the globe have come under intense scrutiny from the public, media organisations and governments.

Owner of Lolita's Mexican Cantina restaurant, Mark Wilson, said he was unaware the name came with such baggage when it was coined.

Mr Wilson said it was not until all the branding had been developed that someone brought up the connection to the 1955 novel, and while much debate was had, it was decided to stick with the name Lolita's Mexican Cantina.

"Once we got concerned we did a lot of research around but to make sure we weren't being foolhardy and we didn't get really anything bad googling those terms," he said.

"We kept it because of the purity in which it was created."

 

emily.toxward@news.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as 'Gobsmacked': One word gets Coast woman kicked off Facebook



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