Facebook’s fake “real names” policy

Dana Lone HillIn October, Facebook issued a very clear statement saying that it’s never been the company’s policy to require legal names — but rather, to require people to use the names they go by in real life. “For Sister Rosa, that’s Sister Rosa. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that’s Lil Miss Hot Mess,” a company spokesperson said.

But Facebook is repeatedly reneging on that promise. For Native Americans, for instance, it insists that names like “Dana Lone Hill” don’t meet its guidelines — and then it requires legal documentation (copies of a driver’s license, for instance). For punk music writers like Legs McNeil, it requires a more “legitimate” sounding name. For video blogger Jay Smooth, it briefly suspended his account (and then reinstated it when Smooth, who has quite a following, complained about it on Twitter.)

Whenever the company gets called on this behavior, it says each individual instance was a mistake. But this is a repeated pattern. The “mistake” excuse does not hold water.

This is not responsible corporate behavior. This is the behavior of a company that believes it can say one thing publicly and do something completely different in daily practice.

Facebook’s fake “real names” policy