So, I’m sure you’ve heard how certain trans performers and drag artists have recently fallen victim to Facebook’s sudden insistence that everybody on its site uses their full, legal name. I’m sure you’ve read all about the potential pitfalls and repercussions attendant with such a stipulation, especially in a country where in most states you can still be dismissed from your job and evicted from your home for being LGBT. Plus, y’know, the very real risk some people face of being physically harmed, were their identities known.
Authors, too, have many good reasons to use pen names. Again with the LGBT firing/eviction thing, but also because *whisper it* there are some crazies out there, and maybe we don’t all want our fans googling where we live and stalking us outside our homes, mmmkay?
Now I knew all of this, in an intellectual, it-doesn’t-affect-me kinda way. See, I use my real name on facebook. That’s because I was born and raised in a civilised country where I have certain legal protections which mean my boss can’t fire me for writing m/m, and nor can my landlord evict me. I know, I know, a glut of luxuries — right?
So my personal facebook page became my business facebook page. Fans and authors brush shoulders with ex-colleagues from my last day job, and people I went to school and college and uni with. You’d think, with so many different people knowing me, sharing and tagging pictures of me, and stipulating from whence they knew me, facebook would understand that I’m actually who I say I am.
I wasn’t expecting that.
So now I’ve got to give facebook my real name, otherwise I’ll be locked out of my account for ever and ever and ever. No problem, right? I’ll just put in my real name — i.e., the one I was using all along — and things will be fine. Right?
I kinda was expecting that.
But this raises some interesting questions. Who approved my name (or didn’t, in this case)? What information do they think they hold on me that they think they know, without asking me for confirmation, what my “real name” actually is? What database are they accessing, who gave them access to it, and how are they using it? They haven’t asked me to provide any evidence of my name (but if they think they’re getting a scan of my passport, they can think again), they’re telling me outright, “Nope, we know that’s not your name. Try again!”
Well, bullshit. Firstly, that is my name. Secondly, how do they think they know that it isn’t, anyway?
Honestly, I’m past trying to get my account back. Now I want to know what information they’re accessing about me.
Also, I’m a little bit pissed at the sheer inanity of the process. “Enter Name.” “Wrong Name. Enter Name.” Well who the fuck do I contact if you think the right name is the wrong name? There’s no support link. I go to facebook Help and under “suspended accounts” they tell me to follow the instructions on screen to unsuspend it. “Enter Name.” And round we go again.
So. I’m on Twitter, I’m on tumblr, I’m on my blog. I might or might not get a response to the shirty email I finally sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Given I was asking more questions about their information source than getting my account back, I’m not holding my breath.
If they do respond, the next question I’ll be asking is why it’s only LGBT people I’m hearing that are affected by this move. Again, I won’t hold my breath for an answer.
Theo Fenraven · September 15, 2014 at 10:39 pm
This sucks. It really sucks. It’s like a witch hunt!
I wouldn’t blame you if you blew Facebook off forever. If they pull this crap on me, I will think long and hard about returning.
While I enjoy the benefits of having a Facebook account, I can honestly say I despise their politics.
Kate Aaron · September 16, 2014 at 1:29 am
There’s one group on fb I would miss participation in, and I’d like access to my photos. Otherwise Zuckerberg can go hang.
Dermot Kennedy · September 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm
Its one step away from asking people to wear a star of David on their coat professing their sexual orientation. And we all know where that leads …. HAIL ZUCKERBERG !
Kate Aaron · September 16, 2014 at 1:30 am
*Feels sudden overwhelming compulsion to raise right arm…*
Helena Stone · September 15, 2014 at 10:51 pm
So far FB seems to be happy enough with my name (even if it isn’t quite what is says on my passport) but I’m not holding my breath. I’ve started setting up G+ for the moment it all goes haywire. I’m convinced sooner rather than later this is going to backfire on FB but by then they’ll probably have pissed so many people off there won’t be any going back. I guess G+ will come out the winner in this debacle. I hate seeing friends disappear before my eyes but can’t blame you for not being arsed about coming back. I also guess I’ll be frequenting twitter and tumbler more in future as well as G+. FB was a handy place to find my friends as long as my friends were allowed to play there. In the end it’s all about the friends for me, not the place. The choice isn’t hard. In fact, it isn’t even a choice.
Kate Aaron · September 16, 2014 at 1:32 am
I use twitter, but I don’t like the character limit and find it harder to have a full conversation on there. G+ I’ve never used, and never wanted to, although I suspect I’ll be giving it the once-over in the next few days. If Tumblr would get its head out of its arse and make conversations easier to have without reblogging, I’d be on there 24/7.
Jennifer · September 15, 2014 at 11:05 pm
I have ~1000 photos on facebook, many of which are *only* on there. I’m working on moving them to my hard drive then we’ll see how much I use fb anymore. They’re getting a bit too… nosy/pushy for me to feel entirely comfortable there anymore.
Kate Aaron · September 16, 2014 at 1:32 am
My photos are one of the things I wish I had backed up. Not just the ones I took, but all my friends’ pics of me, too.
Meredith King · September 15, 2014 at 11:19 pm
I’m not at all happy! This is horrific what they are doing.
Kate Aaron · September 16, 2014 at 1:33 am
Tell me about it!!!
Lj Bennett · September 15, 2014 at 11:20 pm
This seriously sucks. Who has the right to say that the name you choose for yourself is wrong, or even in your case Kate, the name that was chosen for you as a baby?
No human being should have that right, and as such no man-made system/machine should have that right either. One of my sons has decided he’s Batman. I, as his mother accept his right to choose, and although he can’t be Batman at school (certain identities need to be kept secret in order to save the world 😉 ) he can be Batman anywhere else if that is what he chooses.
My facebook name isn’t the one on my passport on either of my accounts (yes I have two but once again… shhh Don’t fell Fb!) One denotes the name I married into combined with my business name, and the other is a pen name I chose for myself when I thought that maybe, one day my stories would make it to print – also not the name I was given when I was born, but a combination of the defining people in my life that made me being me so much easier.
Facebook is a social media site and I know so many people who don’t get called their full given name by their social circles – my best friend is known to me as Sweets, short for Sweetcheeks 😉 Her given name is saved for when she is naughty exactly like when you’re a child and your Mum yells your whole entire name after seeing you swinging from the cherry tree in the garden by your legs. (or was that just me?)
Anyway, as I was saying… Facebook is handy, but there are other options – it isn’t the be all and end all, and once the people/machines in charge realise this the better. (yes I am rambling now but I feel strongly about this!) It shouldn’t matter who you are supposed to be. Facebook should let you celebrate who you are now.
Kate Aaron · September 16, 2014 at 1:35 am
There are definitely things I would miss about fb if I can’t reinstate the account, but after this I think my engagement there would be very different, anyway.
Juliana · September 16, 2014 at 12:28 am
Ugh, I have a pseudonym on FB, Jules Lovesbooks (also my twitter handle), because when I had my real last name a gentleman from my work tried to friend me. Which would be fine if I didn’t work at a church & couldn’t be fired for: cursing, progay rhetoric, and general immorality.
So I cannot use my actual name. If they get around to shutting down my account I will just have to allow it to be closed. I spend most of my time on twitter anyway so I guess I’ll just have to change to 100% twitter…
Kate Aaron · September 16, 2014 at 1:38 am
Depressing, isn’t it?
Jade Crystal · September 16, 2014 at 1:28 am
I hate that this is happening at all, to anyone, but what they’re doing to you, Kate, is even more ridiculous. I use a pen name because I don’t want the “writer” me mixed up with the “everything else” me. I live in a very conservative place, my family is openly against pretty much everything I believe in, and I’m afraid my ex will try to take my kids away if he is able to track me down and find out what I write. So if FB does this to me, I’ll have no choice but to let it go. There’s just too much at risk to let my different selves get mixed up.
Kate Aaron · September 16, 2014 at 1:40 am
At least I’m lucky enough not to have those worries (although with a move to the US pending, I do wonder if maybe I should have picked a pen name all those years ago…), but given the many legitimate reasons people have for using a pseudonym online, I don’t see why they’re making such a big deal of this — to the point of insisting your birth certificate name is the *only* name you can have on your profile. It’s downright dangerous for some people to comply with that.
Janet Ellinger · September 16, 2014 at 3:45 am
My chats with you and AJ are completely gone. Only my comments remain and in place of yours it says, “this comment has been removed because it’s abusive or marked as spam”. I’m just livid. Lock your accounts until you straighten it out, if you can, but don’t just wipe them out. The whole thing is beyond wrong. I hope you two head over to G+. We need to be able to know when your books are released, etc. And when you get married!!
Theo Fenraven · September 16, 2014 at 11:37 am
I checked my chats with AJ. They are still there but are locked. I can no longer comment on them.
Kate Aaron · September 16, 2014 at 12:36 pm
I know my chat comments have been removed. For 19mo AJ and I have spoken every single day (usually all day, lol) on fb and the entire history of our relationship was on that site. And now it’s gone.
I know there’s bigger things, but I’m still pissed off. Plus, as this actually was a personal account, I kept in contact with old friends and colleagues there. Wedding photos, christenings, nights out and all my other memories… gone. It’s been an eye-opening experience. I don’t think I’ll ever be so dependent on a website again.
Anna Butler · September 16, 2014 at 1:35 pm
I am beyond furious over this. Everything you say here about people’s privacy and safety, steamrollered over by the Zuckerberg Juggernaut. Utterly disgusting.
All right, *technically* we signed up to FB knowing they wanted real names, but what real harm is there apart from FB wanting to force us all to use fan pages that they’ll charge us to promote to ten people and the office cat? I *wish* I’d kept an online reference I saw recently that analysed book sales against FB paid-for advertising and promotions and basically said that burning your money would have just as much impact on your sales.
I have never liked FB. Thank god I don’t do much on there. If I get locked out tomorrow, I’ve lost a year’s worth of interaction with (mostly) other writers. Nothing more significant than that.
In your shoes, I would be incandescent.
Kate Aaron · September 16, 2014 at 2:10 pm
Incandescent is a good word 🙂
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