Facebook and me getting booted out

So Facebook and I might be over. Really over. I am currently engaged in an email “discussion” with them about their attitude to online identities which I consider naive and not very well thought through.*

They disabled my account two weeks ago because I was not using my “real name”. Apparently. Although who made them the all-seeing, truth knowing entity who can decide what a “real name” is and what is not, I have no idea. The email address I signed up with does not tell them what my real name is, nor does any other information I gave them when I registered. I only give over that info online a) when I am buying something or b) when I am writing as a journalist.

Anyhoo. It all started when my profile page was borked for about a week. It happened suddenly after adding an application. No idea which one did it, but I could see and do everything else: update my status, participate, play Scrabulous, add my Three Little Words and so on.

I just could not see my profile page. I ummed and ahhed about emailing them because I knew they might have an issue with my online handle (which is not this one, but is my original one from c. 1994).

I eventually caved in and emailed them. Sure enough, the reply mentioned nothing about what the problem was, just that they had disabled my account. “Fake names are a violation of our Terms of Use”, they proclaimed. It is not a fake name, I argued, but my online persona.

I can detail our argument when I am not so tired and angry. But here is an abstract of my response:

This is not a fake name. This is my online handle/identity. I completed my Doctorate in online communities, young people and identity in 2000 and believe we have the right to present ourselves in different contexts – on and offline – in ways of our choosing. Choice is the key here. Most will choose to represent themselves with their real names, others will not. I know several people in the public eye who are given this choice by Facebook.

my point there was why are they so arbitrary about this? At what point do you have to “become” a brand? What about pen names as someone pointed out to me?

and so on. Anyway, this is now an important point of principle about the blurring line and choice of who and how you are in public, in private, and in that liminal space online. What I have realised however is: I really don’t need Facebook and they certainly don’t need me. And I am blogging again. That’s got to be a good thing right?! ;0)

*We have already seen Facebook make several booboos around this in its very short life. Like this. Oh and let’s not forget this. Ahh the follies of youth.

20 responses to “Facebook and me getting booted out

  1. I finally deleted my Facebook account last week, I’d had enough of their inconsistencies and the ad insertion and the data mining.

    Interestingly they still make it very hard to delete an account if you want to but seem to be able to manage complete erasure when they want to, eg. Robert Scoble.

    Personally, I think you are better off out of there.

    – Neil.

  2. Hi Doctoe,

    If they kick you out then I will be leaving Facebook as well.



  3. Blogging again is *definitely* a good thing 😉

  4. What is interesting about this is that it seems to reflect the development of Facebook from a place for interaction into a process to justify an $11bn valuation, in a couple of ways. Firstly, requiring the use of “real names” could be an attempt to make the user-base look more valuable to advertisers; and secondly, it could be an attempt to make the place “safer” from inappropriate behaviour, which is on the agenda following the problems Facebook had with the NY attorney general. Either way, it is more evidence that the service is changing its character significantly, and in rather dubious ways.

  5. I’ve got a long post in the offing about Facebook and other such services. Basically, it’s worth remembering that when you pay nothing for a service, you are likely to be arbitrarily dumped – because you’re not a customer, you’re part of an audience. And, with audiences, what matters is never the fate of a particular individual, but the growth of the mass.

  6. I originally signed up to Facebook because I was told someone had posted a photo of me there. I used the name Gia Gia.

    It took a couple months before I decided to actually *use* Facebook. When I did so, I contacted them asking them to change my name to my full, real name. My account was immediately disable. The reason? I wasn’t using my real name.


    It was sorted out eventually, but I’m feeling more and more that my time with them is nearing its end.

  7. That is absolute ridiculousness.

  8. After the evening I’ve had, my perspective on identity, social networks and all the mishegoss around who controls what information has skewed considerably. Your FB kerfuffle fascinates me on this front, and I shall be quite eager to see how it plays out.

    I’ll keep an eye here, but of course anticipate there may be news disseminated through Seesmic too, so no doubt I’ll be in the loop. (-:

    Bon chance on this mon ami …


  9. Fwiw they kicked us out too:


  10. Kittenfluff,

    I just realised something… In the UK you can call yourself anything you want without having to ‘legally’ change your name by deed poll. As long as your name change isn’t for fraudulent purposes, it is perfectly possible for you to just start calling yourself almost anything you want. You *do* need to have a first and a second name – so you could be Kitten Fluff… and Facebook *should* legally have to accept that.

    You could kick up a big, proper stink with Facebook. Are they above UK law which allows you to go by any name you want, when you want? Hmmmm. 😉

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  14. hi i have gmae blog you can use my article

  15. Years ago when I first started using the net no-one used their real name anywhere. In fact it was discouraged. But now in the days of Facebook they’re deleting people for not using their real name? It’s daft.

    The thing is the people who know you will know who it is BUT what if you don’t want certain people to find you? I mean if family members or people you have to see every day but don’t like very much try to add you it can be hard to say no. Best way to prevent them finding you? Use a pen name. But FB won’t allow it.

    My other criticisms of FB: it’s hard to delete your profile, most people aren’t properly aware of privacy settings so basically if you wanted to be a little sneak and watch people’s profiles it’s really easy to find out what someone you haven’t seen for years is doing or what gig your ex went to… the list goes on. What happened to online anonymity. I should add Lezli isn’t my real name… Well it is and it isn’t… but I prefer to hide my identity.

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  17. FYI, the link to the techcrunch.com article (in the final, italicized paragraph) is busted due to an extra http that snuck in. The correct link is:

  18. Fuck that, get in the mind of the enemy and beat them with their own stupidity.

    When facebook shut down my account because I was using my ‘pen’ name, all I did was take a scan of my passport, skilfully changed my name in the scan using photoshop (to match my ‘pen’ name) and send it through as proof that my ‘pen’ name was my legal name (I also blocked out the passport number and explained that it was for obvious safety reasons against fraud – a point that cannot be argued – thus making it impossible for them to verify the legality of the scanned document ).

    Once they apologised an reinstated my account, I hurled abuse at the process by which they discriminate against ‘odd names’.
    They apologised and I never heard from them ever since, the account has been running just fine.

    Truth be told, facebook is a social joke that preys on our uncontrollable need to stalk people, porn works along the same lines.

    Nevertheless, when I was offline for 3 months (because I had a very entertaining job) I found my return to facebook a sad affair, almost like getting back together with someone that you broke up with because you didn’t love them (not that I know what that feels like) but I suspect its very close to the feeling of getting back onto facebook after a 3 months hiatus.

    I wish there was a leave facebook movement that set a day of the year aside for people to collectively leave facebook for good and the best way to get your account deleted it to break several of their rules in one sitting, facebook will do the rest.


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