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.