Sunday, July 12, 2015

What's in a name?

Welp. It happened. Facebook decided that my derby name constituted a breach in their policy and gave me the choice to be either locked out of my account or change my name to something akin to the email I signed up with. Unfortunately, I signed up with an email that is attributed to my government name, so either I changed my name to some form of Renee McHugh, or I would be locked out of my account for at least five days. Wow. Ugh and fuck.

Now, I wasn't completely surprised this had happened. Facebook has been going after "fake names" for the last couple of months and I knew my account might be either reported or discovered. I had already seen Bonnie Thunders and Demanda Riot and Low Maim post about their struggles with Facebook and derby names. Some of my league mates discussed what we would do if our accounts were targeted,and most of decided that we'd burn that bridge after we crossed it. Unfortunately for me, I was the first one to have to hold the match.

My derby name is important to me; it's my brand, so to speak. I write my blog under my name, Elektra Q-Tion, write a monthly column for Derby Central, and I host a radio show on WDRBY.com. I don't hide behind my derby name and attack people. I used my derby name to make sure people in the derby community could find me and I could make connections with them. Of course, none of that really mattered to Facebook. To be fair, Facebook did give me a chance to send in proof that I was Elektra Q-Tion, but it would take five days and Facebook is one of the few ways I can keep in contact with the people in my derby circles. Seriously, nobody knows who Renee Q. McHugh is. Heck, I barely recognize my own self on Facebook anymore.

Facebook has conflated anonymity with a pseudonym, and seems to be hell bent on doing this over and over again. According to the Facebook help center, we are not allowed to use anything but our "authentic names". The direct quote is what makes me laugh, because people on Facebook and in real life call me Q; I'm rarely called Renee in social settings anymore. According to Facebook, "The name you use should be your authentic identity; as your friends call you in real life and as our acceptable identification forms would show." Facebook claims that they're just trying to keep us all safe. "Facebook is a community where people use their authentic identities. We require people to provide the name they use in real life; that way, you always know who you're connecting with. This helps keep our community safe." I assume that people would know who they were connecting with because they were involved in the derby community. Non derby people rarely seek me out.

At this point I'm probably going to keep my government name on Facebook. Many people that have jumped through Facebook's hoops have had to defend their names several times, getting locked out of their accounts for up to five days each time. It's annoying. In my case, my derby name being taken away is unfortunate, but it isn't life threatening. I am not a survivor of an abusive relationship, or transgendered person in transition, or someone with an unusual name who happens to get reported out of the blue. I can suck it up and be Renee on Facebook, but I know other people who have serious issues with being "their authentic name" on Facebook, and if they're locked out of their account, they're locked out of several support groups and communities. It's a serious shame that Facebook can't follow Twitter and Instagrams' lead when it comes to pseudonyms. Even Google+ caved and allowed people to use nicknames and such.

If you do lose your derby name, you will have to make the same decision I did. Will you fight for your name or will you give in. If you choose to fight, you have to submit one of the following:

Birth certificate
Driver’s license
Passport
Marriage certificate
Official name change paperwork
Personal or vehicle insurance card
Non-driver's government ID (ex: disability, SNAP card, national ID card)
Green card, residence permit or immigration papers
Tribal identification or status card


If you don't have your derby name on any of those, you can submit TWO forms of ID with your derby name:

Bank statement
Bus card
Check
Credit card
Employment verification
Library card
Mail
Magazine subscription stub
Medical record
Membership ID (ex: pension card, union membership, work ID, professional ID)
Paycheck stub
Permit
School card
School record
Social Security card
Utility bill
Yearbook photo (actual scan or photograph of the page in your yearbook)Voter ID card


"If you don’t have an ID that shows your authentic name as well as your photo or date of birth, you can provide two forms of ID from Option 2 above, and then provide a government ID that includes a date of birth or photo that matches the information on your profile. We won't add the name or other information from the government ID to your account."

If you are worried about using your derby name on Facebook, you can do one thing to avoid getting picked up in a sweep, so to speak. My derby name was yanked almost an hour after I downloaded the FB pages manager on my phone. I was having issues with answering messages on our page from my phone, and I have a sneaky suspicion it was that download that put me on their radar. I was Elektra Q-Tion on Facebook for six plus years before it was yanked. Maybe I'll be Elektra Q-Tion again if Facebook figures out that pseudonyms aren't making the community unsafe.





3 comments:

  1. You should check out the #MyNameIs movement if you haven't already.
    http://www.mynameiscampaign.org/about/

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  2. I know this comment comes a little late...

    I follow Suzie Hotrod and Carmen Getsome on FB, who both use their Derby Names there. They both also have a small bit of text on their page near their name. Hotrod's says 'Athlete,' and Getsome's says 'Business.'

    Like you said, Q, your Derby Name is your -brand-. You writing derby commentary under your skater name is exactly the same as being a novelist who publishes under a pen name (minus the royalty checks from your publisher). I imagine that Suzie Hotrod and Carmen Getsome made a similar argument to the ... good ... folks at FB in order to keep their pages under their "brand" names. I doubt it could work for EVERYBODY in the derby community, but for folks who have an established derby 'brand,' it might be worth making the argument to The Powers That Be.

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