Saturday, May 14, 2011
Facebook: Inauthentic Name - Temporary Block
Yesterday, when I tried to log-in to Facebook, I realized I couldn't - for one of the first times in almost four years online with this social network thingy.
When I do try to log-in, I get a very interesting message.
It comes up with the enticing headline "Inauthentic Name - Temporary Block", then tells me in finer print that "Unfortunately, the name you entered was not approved by our system. Please wait 10 minutes and then try again." Having waited 15 minutes (that extra five as a buffer), I followed this sage advice, and got the same message again - this time with the warning that "Please note that if your next attempt is also unsuccessful, your account may be disabled."
I then waded through the maze that is Facebook Help, and finally discovered a portal via which to contact them, explaining that this is my real name, and not in fact inauthentic as the system now seems to believe.
I received this automated response: "Your account has been temporarily suspended because your profile does not list your real name. Facebook requires all members to provide their real first and last names."
Which is weird, because my name is Andrez Bergen, and that's the moniker I use on Facebook.
I don't remember having to provide legal proof or ID in order to first join Facebook three or four years ago, so I tested the waters on this and just went and signed up under an alias - and, hey presto! No problem. Easy as cooking boiled eggs.
Also, if they're so strict about real names being used, how come there are so many completely obvious aliases allowed on Facebook for DJs and band members? So, I read the automated email further and it says:
"Nicknames can be used, but only if they are a variation on your real first or last name, such as 'Bob' instead of 'Robert'. Which is, I guess, what 'Andrez' is - a nickname variant of 'Andrew' from when I was a teenager that I've adopted on a permanent professional basis in journalism, music and for my novel. I also have it on all my business cards - copies of which I sent through to Facebook.
This morning a real person, Pat, wrote back from Facebook but in no less automated a manner. She didn't address me personally, and added that "the only way we will be able to verify ownership of this account is if you reply to this email with an attached color image of your government-issued photo identification confirming your full name and date of birth. Rest assured that we will permanently delete your ID card from our servers once we have used it to verify the authenticity of your account."
Which prompted me to contact the Australian Embassy here in Tokyo - who strongly recommended against my sending any photo of my passport to anyone on the Internet due to concerns of fraud. I'd agree with that.
So I've contacted Facebook once again, advising this and again sending copies of my business cards to show that 'Andrez Bergen' is no sham moniker. It would be great to understand why I'm suddenly, without warning, being forced to prove my identity after more than three years on Facebook, and even when I do try to do so they decline to believe me.
All of this probably sounds like a complete waste of time (it does to me!), but I use this account not only in relation to my journalism work and for networking in business, but with friends and family on the other side of the world - who'll be even more unnecessarily worried on top of the ongoing concerns about earthquakes and the nuclear problems at Fukushima power plant.
Start from scratch with a new account?
Sounds tempting, but I put so much effort and time into the existing one, and when there's a cause to fight against a pig-headed bureaucracy, I can't help myself. No doubt I'll lose, but I'll go down fighting in an equally pig-headed manner! ;)