Come On, Facebook: Feminista Jones Is Real
Facebook’s tone-deaf “real name” policy often impacts users’ ability to use the service as intended, and in some cases, it has even impacted those users’ careers, privacy, and safety.
This week, author and activist Feminista Jones received a take-down notice from Facebook for her personal profile, which she uses for networking and organizing events like the upcoming Women’s Freedom Conference on October 25, 2015. The notice demanded that Jones provide documentation of her “real” name in order to prevent the suspension of her profile, in which Jones has over three thousand contacts, as well as group memberships and an archive of posts about her valuable work.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has defended this controversial policy in the past by saying, “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.”
By now, Jones has a successful career and the name recognition to go along with it. She has published numerous books and appeared on C-SPAN and Exhale TV as Feminista Jones. There should be no doubt in a Facebook staffer’s mind that her name is “real,” and that her contacts will best recognize her under this moniker. No other name could be more correct.
In an interview with The Daily Pennsylvanian, Jones explained her choice to use a pseudonym online: “I thought it was helpful because as my reach started to grow, and as more people started to follow me, it became a safety concern. I use a pseudonym to kind of try to protect my identity somewhat.”
One’s “legal name” is not always the same as one’s “real name” – and using a legal name could even be dangerous, such as for users who need to escape stalkers and potential doxing attempts. Facebook users with names that are perceived to be unusual due to racist or cissexist reasoning often have had their profiles unfairly targeted for removal.
Jones has launched a campaign to convince Facebook to reinstate her profile, and she has provided instructions on her blog on how to contact Facebook to report their error. Jones encourages social media users to take the campaign to Twitter as well, where people have been tweeting at the Facebook account using the hashtag #FJisreal, citing links to Feminista Jones’ various publications and public appearances.
Ethiopian activist HappyAddis recently had a similar experience with Facebook, and his profile got successfully reinstated, so there is hope for a similar outcome in Jones’ case – provided that other users step up and assure Facebook that they’ve done wrong.
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