What’s in a name?

So, this story blew up and then apparently blew out, but perhaps not really. Another (in fact, now, at least two) of my friends on Facebook has had her account suspended because she has an odd (but legal) name. It seems the account will be offline until she provides clear and irrefutable proof that she is a real person. Actually, her name is her name, it’s just not John or Jane…


It looks like the name on your Facebook account may not be your authentic name. We ask everyone to use the name they go by in real life so friends know who they are connecting with.

Please help us by responding with your first and last name.

If the name on your account is already the name you use in everyday life, we would like to work with you to verify that this name best represents your identity.

We accept a number of documents to allow you to verify your everyday name.’

Now, ok, I’m known by many names all over the place, but on Facebook I have always been Mark Rosher. I have no reason not to be me. Others may have.

Past abusive relationships, dysfunctional families, religious disagreements with family members, employment restrictions… I know teachers who have Facebook profiles but they soon find themselves open to inappropriate interaction from students, or even accusations of such from others. I know many teachers who simply do not, cannot, have a Facebook account.

I know folk who have changed gender. I know folk who are authors, better known for their pen-name than their legal name, who wish to interact with their readership more than can be done through a fan page.

All these things are reasonable cause to have a Facebook name that differs from the one on your birth certificate. It seems to me that the only reason Facebook can have for insisting on legally traceable names is one of marketing, which isn’t why Facebook was initially created. We, the commodity, are not behaving as good stock should.

So what? I hear you say. If you don’t like the place, it’s worth what you pay for it. Well, what you pay with is your identity, and Facebook is calling in the debt. So, will I stay? Probably, a bit. But will I interact, give over my data, and suck it up? Maybe not. There are other places I can touch base with friends, like Ello, where funnily enough I’m not Mark Rosher but hey… my pet rock still has a Facebook account. Just saying’…

4 responses to “What’s in a name?”

  1. Pet rock ? That’s scary … my baby brother has had a pet rock for at least forty years …. and still has it ! It even went to sea with him whilst he was serving in the Royal Navy ……


  2. Bill Piles (not my real name) Avatar
    Bill Piles (not my real name)

    I’m also on ello, with my official BPLF title, rather than my more mundane name. Feel free to get in touch.


  3. I’m wafting round with 2/3 of my ‘real’ name here. I have 2 theories. 1) they have heard about that whole having names equates to having power thing and want to try it. Or 2) they are terrified of diversity and difference and want us all to be as boring and tame as possible, and we are to start this by calling each other very ordinary and unimaginative things. My money is on option 2.


  4. So many of my friends affected by this farce… but what bewilders me most os the about of effort they’re all going to to satisfy this unaccountable police presence… sending details of passports, birth certificates, deeds of name changing… As I say, I’ve an addiction I’m addressing in my own way, but if Facebook started demanding my personal information I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t bend over so quickly. Maybe. Anyhow, an awful lot of my closer friends are now on Ello, so care, me?


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