Facebook tells Native Americans that their names aren't "real"


Facebook's "real names" policy means that from time to time, it arbitrarily decides what its users are allowed to call themselves, which sucks if your name is something like Dana Lone Hill or Robin Kills The Enemy or Shane Creepingbear.

Whatever solutions Facebook finds, its clear they need to be instituted now. Perusing the list of people who’ve been targeted for names enforcement, there’s one thing every group has in common. They are somehow outside the mainstream. As Creepingbear points out, “There’s been a long history of Native erasure and while Facebook might not be enacting it with that intention, it’s still a part of that long history of people erasing native names. It’s part of the violence against native people in general.”

He's right, and his comment goes for other groups who've been affected by the policy, too. Without putting more controls on how people can report profiles, Facebook has given any user the ability to decide that they are the arbiter of someone else’s name—even when that name represents centuries of cultural tradition, as it does for Native Americans, or belonging in an adopted family for marginalized people, as it does for drag queens.

As for Dana Lone Hill, she was locked out of her account for nearly a week despite the fact that she did provide documentation right away. She says she was asked for more: “credit cards, Social Security numbers, stuff I’m not comfortable sending.” Ultimately, her account was restored—after a few news articles were written. And no one should have to rely on media attention to get Facebook to deal with its broken name policy.


Facebook's Name Policy Strikes Again, This Time at Native Americans
[Nadia Kayyali/EFF]

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