The goddess Isis was an important figure in ancient Egypt. The ideal wife with a name meaning “throne,” she was the very embodiment of the Pharaoh’s supernatural right to power. Thus it’s no surprise that some women might see fit to name their daughters after her. In fact, Isis was one of the most popular baby names among Portuguese people in 2012.
That said, Facebook’s not about to let you be a member of their exclusive, 1-billion-plus people network if you have such a first name. We’re being hyperbolic, but so it would seem. Isis Anchalee is an engineer living in San Francisco, and after the attacks in Paris last Friday, in perhaps a fat fingered move, the social media giant disabled her account.
By all accounts, Anchalee is very much not involved with the terrorist organization known by several names, chiefly the Islamic State. She is just an engineer going about her life. The move was ultimately reversed. Anachlee commented on the ridiculousness via Twitter at the time:
This is not the first time Facebook has decided that your name is not actually your name. The company has come under fire several times over the past few years for disabling the accounts of Native Americans whose names the company discounted as not being real. One such user’s last name was called into question, that user being Shane Creepingbear.
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There is a certain arrogance in claiming to know whether or not someone else is using their real name. After all, until we are adults, names are not something we have a say over. One of the most famous Internet entrepreneurs of all time, Kim Dotcom, legally changed his name to Dotcom years ago. Does Facebook expect people born to more creative parents to change their names to suit its “real names policy”?
Hard telling, but what is clear is that the company believes users being identified by their real names is an important part of its experience. The policy is confusing in that after a user’s account is suspended, they must submit legal documents proving their identity. But earlier this year Mark Zuckerberg told BuzzFeed that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a legal name that users are signing up to Facebook with.
Real name does not mean your legal name. Your real name is whatever you go by and what your friends call you. If your friends all call you by a nickname and you want to use that name on Facebook, you should be able to do that.
Facebook cites the safety of its users as the biggest motivator for the policy, but from a business perspective, it seems obvious that knowing people’s real names is better for advertising purposes. Over the years, the Internet has evolved from a place where people were mostly pseudonymous to one where people are mostly able to be found with a few key strokes and button clicks.
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