British Columbia

Victoria mayor doesn't 'like' fake Facebook profile, has it pulled down

If you’ve seen a Facebook page that was briefly online and seemingly from the mayor of B.C.’s capital, Lisa Helps, it was a phony — but a phony she was so concerned about she had city staff reach out to the social media giant to have it pulled down.

Lisa Helps previously criticized social media platform and renewed that criticism Monday

Will the real Lisa Helps please stand up? The mayor of Victoria had her staff get her fake profile removed from Facebook Monday. (Liz McArthur/CBC)

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps wants to make one thing clear: she is not on Facebook.

So if you've seen a Facebook page that was briefly online and seemingly from the mayor of B.C.'s capital, it was a phony. Helps was so concerned about she had city staff reach out to the social media giant to pull it down.

"The fact that they're using my picture, that they're using the banner that's on my Twitter feed, and they're actually even writing like me, with positivity and exclamation marks, it is very worrisome," Helps said in council chambers Monday.

"It's really troubling that somebody would use this tool, I think, to spread false information. 

"It's completely unacceptable."

The page had several posts purportedly from the mayor, proposing, for instance, the city convert some of its churches to mosques.

Some of the comments on the page's posted pointed out the page was a phony. Others seemed to play along. Others, the mayor noted, were racist in nature, particularly on the one about churches and  mosques.

"There was some sharing and comments," the city's head of engagement, Bill Eisenhauer, said. "It certainly looked like some people did believe that it was an actual site from the mayor"

The page went online sometime on the weekend and was pulled down by Monday afternoon, Eisenhauer added.

"Someone had let [the mayor] know," he responded, when asked how it was discovered. "We checked it out and reported it  immediately to Facebook ... they took steps right away.

Helps said the page went beyond satire.

"It's a deliberate spreading of misinformation speaking in my voice. That's very different," she said.

Helps was distressed that the fake page used her Twitter profile picture and banner. (Bill Eisenhauer)

Helps deleted her Facebook account back in March 2018 as part of the online #deletefacebook campaign that urged people to sign off the platform for good.

She previously ran into a snag with her online presence in 2016 when she was previously blocked for using her real name. Facebook eventually remedied the situation.

"Facebook is a toxic echo chamber," Helps said Monday. "The fact that, on Facebook, somebody can actually become me, look like me, sound like me, with no repercussions until we tell Facebook ... I think there's a problem with that social platform."

Helps says anyone who wants to reach her can call her on the phone, email her or message her on Twitter.


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