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The Great and Powerful Oz Has Spoken

So, two of my friends are fighting with Facebook to get their accounts reinstated because they have been accused of using “fake names,” which they are not.

But I was, until this morning.

One of my friends account has been deactivated permanently, despite the fact that he provided proof of his identity (I am leaving all names out of this because it is public, and there are special circumstances and trolls at work in his case).

Who is really being harmed by these policies and their methods of enforcement?

Here is the letter that Facebook sent to my friend:


Your account has been disabled because we have determined that you are not representing yourself authentically on Facebook. Fake accounts are a violation of our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. All accounts must abide by the following policies:

• You must provide your real first name and last name.
• Impersonating anyone or anything is prohibited.
• Profiles created to represent celebrities, pets, ideas, or inanimate objects are strictly prohibited.
• Profiles created for the purpose of spamming or harassing others are strictly prohibited.

People on Facebook want to interact with their real friends and the people they know in the real world. Since fake accounts can damage the integrity of this environment, they are not allowed to remain on the site.

Unfortunately, we will not be able to reactivate this account for any reason, nor will we provide further information about your violation or the systems we have in place. This decision is final and cannot be appealed.

There are many reasons that some people do not wish to be forced to provide their real name. I have seen countless cases where something posted on a Facebook page got someone fired from, or not hired for, a job. Others may not wish to be found because they have suffered abuse. Should they not be allowed to enjoy the benefits of Facebook without risking their safety?

I am against fake accounts using the names of real people. That crosses a line, in my opinion. However, hard as it is for Facebook to believe, unless we are talking about Lady Gaga, there is likely more than one real person in this world with the same name as a famous person (including Mark Zuckerberg). Their policy appears to be “suspend first, ask questions later” and “guilty until proven innocent.”

“People on Facebook want to interact with their real friends and the people they know in the real world.”

Really? 'Cause some are there just for the games.

Does Facebook think its users are too stupid to know the difference between a name like “Joe Smith” and “Batman”? I mean, if people just want to interact with their “real friends” and people they know in the real world, I think they ought to know who those friends are and reject other friend requests.

I use Bonnie Half-Elven pretty much everywhere else on the internet, so in a sense, it is a real identity. Since I opened the account with that name right after attending A Long Expected Party in 2008, I easily had over 50 friends with a common interest in very short order. And despite the fake name, I have as friends several locals, family members, and even a former grade school classmate. And as I do not wish to lose those contacts now, I have made the change to conform to their requirements.

Of course, Facebook can make its own rules and enforce them, but that does not mean they are good rules or that they are enforced fairly.


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 14th, 2011 10:23 pm (UTC)
Maybe it's time we all packed up, moved to LJ, and give FB the finger so they can't collect our data and do target marketing. The only reason I am there is hobby stuff is there.

I too am under a fake name on FB. Just as my fake name exists here.

Lets face it, people's cats and dogs have facebook accounts.

It boils down to the fact that this is a PR bluder, but I honestly do not think FB gives a shit.
May. 14th, 2011 10:30 pm (UTC)
They don't have to give a shit because they are the top dog. That won't always be the case.

And I definitely prefer LJ over FB! I see it as a necessary evil, because I can't convince enough of my friends that it's better here!
May. 14th, 2011 11:22 pm (UTC)
Like Bonnie, I see this as a necessary evil. I've got friends on both sites who do not use the other.

I think FB, like Google, does not think of its users as its customers. Truly they don't give a shit.

Ym is not my name, either, but somehow, up to now, they're letting me use Ym as a name. Maybe they think it's Asian. Actually, it's short for my initials, but it's against their "rules" to use initials, unless it's a page, which I also have, and where I'm able to use initials... STUPID. I don't happen to want my full name spelled out. Y.M. will be my published pen name, and that is all I want the world to see on either account.
May. 15th, 2011 07:09 am (UTC)
If I had to, I could delete and move on with my life. It would not be the first time I did such a thing. People who know me know where to find me. FB and Google see us as resources to make money. They also report any political commentary to other FB accounts w/o us knowing and w/o our ability to turn it off (I know this to be true becuase I got notified on it and tested it), so in this they squelch free speech. Part of me thinks this may be part of the so called false account sweep. I consider myself internet savvy, I know anything that is posted is public domain. But honestly, they can take the service and shove it. I have the choice to say no more. We all do.
May. 15th, 2011 11:37 am (UTC)
Tell me about the political commentary thing. What exactly do they do?
May. 15th, 2011 05:13 pm (UTC)
Seriously? A while back a friend did a notification that if you said something negative about a certain US Govt offical, that your FB post was also auto posted to a US Govt FB account. So to test it...many of us started spamming FB messages such as "hey who must not be named is stupid". Sure enough, your FB post popped up. So I am anot allowed to discuss politics unless it is in favor of Theywhomustnotbenamed.


I just spent way more time than I wanted trying to find the original post. But the above hints at it.
May. 15th, 2011 10:12 pm (UTC)
What that link talks about is an automated solution to a problem that is punishing the wrong people - which is the point of this whole rant.

I have no delusions that my information is private on Facebook or here or anywhere else. And if my life were really that interesting, I would have something to worry about.

If someone really wanted to go to the trouble to know who I am and where I live or work or eat or anything else, I'm sure they could figure it out. But I don't make it too easy for them.
May. 15th, 2011 01:21 am (UTC)
I like to win the important battles, We're already here on LJ, and funny this, tonight there was a change of tune - after the write on campaign. I love LJ, but I use facebook extensively to keep track of my varied groups of friends, and it is an important tool for he who lost his account, so this is an important battle.

May. 15th, 2011 01:30 am (UTC)
I have about 100 friends here, a few who are not on Facebook; I have 250 friends there, the majority of whom are not here. So yes, it's a valuable tool. And a frustrating one.
May. 15th, 2011 01:32 am (UTC)
Yes, got 1055 or so there, from various groups, work, horses, music, HP, LJ friends, old friends, D had over 900 from England and over here, it's very frustrating.
May. 15th, 2011 06:53 am (UTC)
Hugs- I know.
(Deleted comment)
May. 14th, 2011 10:33 pm (UTC)
I have several local contacts there that are not here, and I can't convince them that here is better!

I think you have some control over who can see tagged photos. I'm trying to rein in the controls as much as I can, too.
May. 14th, 2011 10:42 pm (UTC)
That is really dumb and unfair of them to just suspend his account and leave him no way to defend himself.

With the privacy settings a person could theoretically make himself or herself unable to be search on FB, but there are still ways for other people to find them through mutual friends, applications, public pages, etc.

As for their claim that people only want to interact with people they know in the "real" world, I say that's BS. I look at my friend's list and over half of them are people I "met" through the Nuke fandom or in other ways online. Heck, I bet a lot of fans got a FB account just so they could friend Van and Jake, most of whom have never met them in RL.

Some friends of mine do an ATWT RPG on FB where they've set up profiles for various characters (who only interact with each other, but other people can see their feeds). A lot of people have "fandom" Facebook accounts where they're not using their real names so they can separate their real identity from their fannish interactions. I don't see anything wrong with this, but apparently with FB's current rules that's not allowed.

I get them wanting to prevent harrassment or impersonation of individuals, but to really punish someone for not using their full name seems silly to me.
May. 14th, 2011 11:23 pm (UTC)
I say punish the people who hurt others and impersonate people, but don't disallow things on the off chance that someone might hurt someone else. And don't assume that someone named Mark Zuckerberg isn't actually someone named Mark Zuckerberg.
May. 15th, 2011 01:22 am (UTC)
Yes, if they asked/checked first before reacting, they could save so much face and time and trouble.
May. 15th, 2011 01:23 am (UTC)
Instead, they punish the wrong people.
May. 15th, 2011 01:33 am (UTC)
Yup. We did get a sort of apology today, they are reviewing his case, but only after a huge write in campaign and well written appeal.
May. 15th, 2011 01:50 am (UTC)
Fantastic! Let me know what happens.
May. 15th, 2011 06:56 am (UTC)
May. 15th, 2011 12:50 am (UTC)
This is one of the reasons I am seldom on facebook. People have found me from all walks of life. Fandom friends, family, business clients, members of the local chamber of commerce, etc. There is very little that I can post that would be appropriate for all audiences, and facebook's filtering sucks.

I had been considering creating a fake account that I could control access to better than one with my real name, but I guess facebook would rather force me to spend my time elsewhere.
May. 15th, 2011 01:22 am (UTC)
Actually, their filtering is pretty good now. If you've put your friends into "groups" you can click on the "lock" in a post and custom filter by groups.

I don't bother doing this, however. My friends are of diverse backgrounds and interests. If they don't like a topic, they're free to skip it. I don't want to just preach to the choir on gay issues, for example, and I know that several in my list are not supportive. I can't stop them from filtering me, but I'm not filtering them.

However, I exclude my father from all political, religious, and gay rights posts. We don't agree on much of anything, and for my own health and well-being, I can't go there with him.
(Deleted comment)
May. 15th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
Of course, there are people like you and me who have names we use with our friends or online, and are usually more well-known by those than our birth names (I have many friends who forget my name is Amanda; I am simply Daxy to them).

Exactly. And that makes it a real identity, as far as I'm concerned.

May. 18th, 2011 01:08 am (UTC)
I have a fake account on FB (in addition to the real one). Working at the college I have to watch a lot of what I say. So I have the fake account in order to truly express myself. I think FB saying what is real and what isn't is bullshit. It is real to me - regardless of the name on it. It is real. I feel bad for your friends.
May. 18th, 2011 09:35 am (UTC)
Both of my friends have been reinstated. After a lot of work that shouldn't have been necessary.
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )


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