Facebook Real Name Verification

                                                  Facebook Real Name Verification
Facebook Real Name Verification
Online ‘authenticity’ and how Facebook’s ‘real name’ policy hurts Native Americans

A Facebook error message. (Thomas White/Reuters)

Facebook wants to be one of the few places online where people hiding behind pseudonyms do not control the user experience. It is an anti-anonymity zone, where keeping it real is the rule when it comes to user names.

But what began as a “real name” policy has now been renamed something a little softer. It’s now called the “authentic” name policy, though the details are largely the same.

Despite the fact that the policy has been around almost as long as Facebook itself, complaints from the transgender and drag communities have brought its unintentional consequences into focus. Now, Native Americans are also speaking out about how social media company’s name policy hurts them, too.

Twice now, somebody has reported Shane Creepingbear’s profile as fake. The most recent instance was in October — right around Columbus Day. Creepingbear is his real last name. Facebook, he said, didn’t believe him.

“I started going through the remediation process to prove that I was a real person,” Creepingbear, a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, told The Washington Post. “They kept asking me to put in my real name. And they said this doesn’t meet Facebook’s standards.

“I had to send in a photo of my state ID and I had done that before and that was very frustrating for them to demand it again. It just felt really marginalizing.”

Facebook says it doesn’t require people to use their legal names, just the ones they use in real life.

A company spokesman told The Post in a statement that Facebook tweaked its policies over the past several months to offer new options for verifying names. The company, the statement said, is working on “improving” the verification process as a whole.

“Having people use their authentic names makes them more accountable, and also helps us root out accounts created for malicious purposes, like harassment, fraud, impersonation and hate speech,” the statement said. “Over the last several months, we’ve made some significant improvements in the implementation of this standard, including enhancing the overall experience and expanding the options available for verifying an authentic name.”

[Why the debate over ‘real names’ matters — for drag queens on Facebook and everyone else]

The process of verifying your “real life” name is policed by company employees and can be made easier if your name happens to be found on some kind of documentation — a state ID, a library card, or a piece of mail, for example.

Native Americans says that human error is built into the system in a number of ways, and the result is a quiet marginalization of their identities.

To begin with, just about anyone can report an account based on the suspicion that someone is using a fake identity. And for that reason, Facebook can sometimes subject users to lengthy and repetitive requests to verify their identities, which can resemble a state of online purgatory.

When someone’s name is reported, a Facebook employee checks to see whether the name seems real — a subjective and apparently fraught process.

Creepingbear suspects that his activity on Facebook pages and groups — where he often talks about race and white supremacy — might have prompted someone to report his name.

“Just seeing that over and over again: Your name wasn’t approved, your name wasn’t approved. … It just reflects on a white supremacist society,” he added.

[RuPaul is not happy that Facebook wants to limit users to ‘the name their mama gave them’]

Even more perplexing is the fact that Facebook allows people to simply change their name to resolve the problem.

Choosing a name that won’t cause someone to “report” your account is one solution. And if someone does report your name, it is up to a Facebook employee to determine whether it seems authentic enough; no documentation is needed to make that determination. Either way, “authenticity” is not guaranteed to be the outcome.

Lance Brown Eyes, for example, can become Lance Brown, or maybeLance Browneyes.

“They had no issue with me changing my name to a white man’s name, but harassed me and others, forcing us to prove our identity while other people kept whatever they had,” said Lance Brown Eyes, who was eventually allowed to use his full given name on Facebook after he complained. “They let me change my name back, but what about you and all the others they discriminated against? Our people need to know they can fight back. The more of us stand up, they will change.”

In a recent blog post on Last Real Indians, Dana Lone Hill highlighted the case of Lance Brown Eyes along with her own experience with the social network.

Related Posts:
Lone Hill believed her last name was the same as her father’s, Lone Elk, until she went to high school. She tried to change her name on Facebook to the one on her birth certificate (her mother’s maiden name). Suddenly, she said, she had to prove that she was real:
Facebook Real Name Verification  Facebook Real Name Verification Reviewed by Efukikata Efet on 06:42 Rating: 5

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