Facebook’s suspending Native American people’s accounts under its ‘real name’ policy

Facebook’s much-unloved ‘real name’ policy is under fire again. Having upset the LGBTQ community, now Native American people are having their names changed and accounts suspended.

As the Guardian reports, Dana Lone Hill, who is Native American, had her account suspended because the company didn’t believe her name was real (!), and she’s not the only one. Although her account has now been reinstated after she brought it to the attention of the press, she had to show multiple forms of ID, which few white people have ever been asked to do.

Facebook’s been heavily criticised for this policy in the past and even met with LGBTQ groups to discuss it, but the company seems unwilling to abandon its strategy entirely. There are tons of reasons someone might not want to use the name they were given at birth on the site – from domestic violence to gender transition to being in the public eye.

But when someone is using their real name and Facebook staff ignorantly assume it to be fake, that’s even worse, especially considering the proliferation of parody accounts. ‘Katy Perry’s Left Shark from her Super Bowl halftime show has a Facebook page and we have to prove who we are,’ Lone Hill said last week.

Facebook defends their strategy on the basis that allowing anonymous accounts would lead to an increase in harassment and bullying across the site. And they may be right about that. But for now, they’re increasingly the ones who seem like bullies.

Diane Shipley