Facebook rejects Native American names as fake… again
Facebook’s “real name” rule has come in for criticism again, after a number of Native Americans found their accounts suspended after the company came to the conclusion they were using fake names.
Colorlines, an American website focused on racial equality issues, reported Lakotan Facebook user Dana Lone Hill, received a message from the social network in early February saying she had to change her username because it appeared to not be her “authentic name”, despite having used it since she signed up in 2007.
“We ask everyone to use the name they go by in real life so friends know who they’re connecting with,” Facebook said in the message she received.
“My mother’s [surname] is Lone Hill, my father’s is Lone Elk,” Lone Hill wrote in a blog post about the matter.
“Facebook shut me out for using my father’s and my mother’s last names. I switched back to my mother’s last name and they let me sign in for a few hours, then shut me back out again when I was trying to comment,” she added.
Lone Hill was asked to send official identification to Facebook, proving her name, and claims she was asked to “be patient” while the company investigated the situation, despite having provided it with copies of three separate forms of identification.
Her account was eventually reinstated about eight hours after her story appeared on Colorlines, with Facebook apologising for the “inconvenience”.
History repeating itself
Lone Hill’s experience is far from unique. In 2009 Parmelee Kills The Enemy had her account suspended under the same “real name” policy. More recently, Shane Creepingbear and his wife Jacqui both had their accounts suspended, although both were fairly quickly reinstated following protests from his followers.
Lone Hill also claimed an unnamed Cherokee friend was “forced to change his name from [the] Cherokee alphabet to English”, while another friend, Oglala Lakota Lance Brown Eyes, also had his account suspended and, when it was reinstated, was initially given the name “Lance Brown”. Facebook reinstated his full name after he threatened to file a class action lawsuit.
Facebook also clashed with hundreds of drag queens, who used their stage names on their profile, rather than their legal names.
Despite originally refusing to reinstate the accounts of those affected, the company eventually backed down following a meeting with campaigners who had been planning a protest at Facebook HQ.
In a post on Facebook, the company’s chief product officer said: “The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life.”
“For Sister Roma, that’s Sister Roma. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that’s Lil Miss Hot Mess,” he added.
At the time, Facebook said it would only ask people to provide proof of identity if someone reported their account as fake, which raises the question of how Lone Hill, Brown Eyes, Creepingbear and others came to have their accounts suspended after that decision was made.
Have you had your account suspended under similar circumstances? Let us know in the comments.