Facebook changed my name. Help?
August 19, 2015 8:35 AM   Subscribe

For the last ten years I've kept my name off Facebook. I've used my nickname that I go by and an initial. For ten years. A couple days ago, I couldn't log in without confirming my full name by sending in my license information and then they changed my last name. Not only do I have my full last name listed, I'm no longer able to choose what I have as my name. It's sounds silly but I don't feel safe anymore.

I've seen people have their names reported (real and nickname) because someone was angry. I'm not one to cause mess on the internet but I feel completely unsafe that someone could be upset about something and now have my last name. My first name is not spelled in a common way so it's not like they wouldn't figure it out. I really just don't feel as safe now.

Is there anything I can do? They have my ID (which I also hate having online), they see my name on it. Shouldn't that be enough especially after ten years and when this is what I go by? I don't like to use my last name online anywhere and have been working to take off personal information. I'd at least like to be able to choose what my name is instead of no longer having the option. I had the case opened but now I'm worried they'll just completely shut my profile down and I have groups that I manage. If I didn't or if I didn't have to have a login for certain sites, I'd question keeping the account.

I'm not trying to bend rules, I really just want to know what else I can do to remove my full name from my account.
posted by grablife365 to Computers & Internet (23 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Facebook has been pretty consistently obtuse about this policy. I suspect you will have to close your account to make this go away. That means losing your previous content, but unless FB changes their policy, you pretty much have to play by their rules if you want access to their service.

At that point, you can try opening a new account with a "believable" last name. Some of my friends have made pseudonyms like "Jen Nifer" or "B-ob S-mith" to make themselves recognizable to friends of friends and etc, but not easily searchable. Then again, if someone in your circle is angry and reporting you for revenge, that's not going to help anything since they can just keep reporting.

On the other hand, you could just close your account and ditch Facebook if you want to make a statement about their awful policies. It may be inconvenient, but that's often the price of making a statement.
posted by Alterscape at 8:54 AM on August 19, 2015 [12 favorites]

This is exactly how Facebook's Real Name Policy works.

If you don't want to shut down the account associated with your real name, the best management option is to use the Restrict Post feature for posts you feel are controversial to Friends, Family or other custom settings.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:58 AM on August 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

Unfortunately, you're going to have to work through their dumb case process. You're going to need to send them as much of the documents they ask for with THE NAME THAT YOU WANT ON YOUR FACEBOOK ACCOUNT on them.

"But, Juliet, my birth certificate/library card/checks don't have the name I want on my Facebook account on them!"

Man, that's unfortunate. If only, if only there was widely-available software that allowed you to manipulate and edit photos and other images.

I would recommend making a second account - the Jen Nifer account Alterscape mentioned - and adding that account as a user on all the pages you manage, just so you do not lose access to those pages if your account is suspended.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:01 AM on August 19, 2015 [38 favorites]

They are a private company. You don not have to participate. Just leave FaceBook. Shut down your account and nuke it from orbit.

I have a long-term stalker, so I totally get the inconvenience, the hassle, the disappointment over not being able to participate. I also get the fear over having info out there and out of your control.

In the future, never ever ever ever give anyone your driver's license or similar over the internet. FB wants to ban you because you don't want to give your info? FINE. Make up a new email and start a new account. Or just don't participate because you should not enrich FB for free and at your own expense.
posted by jbenben at 9:09 AM on August 19, 2015 [14 favorites]

"A friend" (not me, of course, no no: not me) has an account under their middle name + mom's maiden name.
posted by easily confused at 9:11 AM on August 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Upon review, what Juliet Banana said.
posted by jbenben at 9:11 AM on August 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would change the identifying info/numbers on my docs.
posted by jbenben at 9:25 AM on August 19, 2015

So, in the wake of their idiotic policy debacle with drag queens, they nominally changed this policy to allow for "nicknames" etc. And while they ask for "government issued ID" on their change form, if you go through the documentation in Juliet's link, you'll see that they actually take a lot of non-government stuff.

If you want to keep using facebook, you're going to need to keep escalating this until you get someone who can undo the automatic block on changing your name twice within 60 days, and you may have to create documents that show that you use the name that you've been under (nickname, initial).

This process is designed to be a hassle, so it's going to mean just repeated emails and messages escalating again and again. (Something that helps me in times like these is to try to remember that it's very unlikely that anyone you deal with formulated any of the dumb policies, so I try not to be angry at them even though they're enforcing dumb policies.)

But their official word on the matter is that you can be known by the name that most of your friends call you — a nickname and initial is certainly legit under that. (I'm on there under a nickname and initial, and have been since you needed an .edu address to sign up.) If you're more persistent than they are, you can change it. Or you can just pull down the archive of your content and then sign up again under the name you prefer. Or not sign up at all because of their intentionally obnoxious policy.
posted by klangklangston at 9:28 AM on August 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Thanks everyone.

I may or may not be working on a second account and documents with the professional software that I have. I appreciate the answers.

Klangklangston, that's when I had my initial too. Since the .edu days so I think I may have been reported and that really bothers me. I'll keep working on this for sure.

Jbenben, I didn't want to give my ID but I was blocked out immediately and couldn't get access to anything.
posted by grablife365 at 9:39 AM on August 19, 2015

Fuck this company's policy. Send them fake documents, or close your account. Don't let them bully you into thinking they have the authority to do what they're doing.

Isn't this exactly the kind of authority they have? You're welcome to attempt to circumvent it, but what prevents a private service from making arbitrary rules that they can enforce however they want?

Is this a discrimination issue covered by civil rights laws? (I honestly don't know the answer to this.)
posted by paulcole at 9:50 AM on August 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

Great update!

Hey.... Yes, when companies are trying to surreptitiously or nefariously get you to VOLUNTARILY hand over your personal data, it will be some sort or fake reward or "panic" type scenario.

My point is they were counting on you to place priority over access to their "free" service over your privacy rights in the heat of the moment. Your accurate ID + user history + other data is worth a lot of money to companies. And, handing it over leaves you vulnerable on multiple levels. For them, it's just about money.
posted by jbenben at 9:54 AM on August 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

How about leaving Facebook?

I'm on Facebook under a false name and if I was forced to divulge my identity and send them proof thereof, I'd just leave Facebook for good.
posted by Kwadeng at 9:59 AM on August 19, 2015

adding that account as a user on all the pages you manage

Make the new account an administrator on the pages you manage. There can be multiple administrators for pages and businesses.
posted by yohko at 10:02 AM on August 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Alternatively, you can change your privacy settings on Facebook so that your account is unsearchable through Google or any other search engines. My Facebook account is unsearchable and not open to public perusal. If someone were to stumble upon my Facebook page who is not a friend -- say a friend of a friend -- they would see a carefully constructed splash page that gives little information.

In short, even though my full name is displayed, not much else is, and my former stalker would have difficulties finding me from the information on the public splash page that Facebook puts up about me. And they couldn't access it other than to send me a message, which I could then ignore.
posted by MildredMakenpace at 10:07 AM on August 19, 2015

You're right Jbenben. That's the worst thing about it. It does nothing but give them money.

I would leave Facebook but it's the only place I have good contact with half siblings for my son. Some don't want to give too much information either so it has been a middle ground for us to keep enough contact. We tried email and it just didn't work as well. We're not to the point of meeting either.
There are other reasons but that's the main reason for wanting to keep my account. Contacts. Even contacts that travel can check in from wherever (also a safety issue with my name being public). I manage the sibling group and it took years to get to this point.

I'm okay with friends seeing my name. They know me but they also know I don't use my name online. But I have a problem with groups and the fact that even if I remove myself, my name will still be listed there. Only grayed out.

I'm not searchable at all either, MildrenMakenpace. I can search for my name and a man with my name comes up and that's it. I'm amused by that, lol.
posted by grablife365 at 10:10 AM on August 19, 2015

So just to clarify - if you log in, and try to change your name per the usual method under settings it doesn't let you? What people are saying about the real name policy is totally true and annoying but that hasn't stopped lots of people I know from just changing it to something else and usually Facebook doesn't notice or care. Are you saying they did catch you and now won't let you change it?
posted by Wretch729 at 10:45 AM on August 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

So just to clarify - if you log in, and try to change your name per the usual method under settings it doesn't let you?

Not to answer for the OP, but yeah, that form will just automatically reject your name change and say that they don't believe the name you entered conforms to their Real Name policy.
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:59 AM on August 19, 2015

The regular method is grayed out because my name had to be confirmed (they give three reasons why and that's mine) so now I'm not allowed to change it myself. I'd have to upload my ID every time and someone would have to allow me to do it.

And yeah, they wont accept a change anyway.

Thanks, Juliet.
posted by grablife365 at 11:07 AM on August 19, 2015

If you would like to start over with a new pseudonym, make sure you download a copy of all your current data first.
Go to https://www.facebook.com/settings and click "Download a copy of your Facebook data." (this should include your contacts)
And yeah, make sure your new pseudonym account is Admin on your groups/pages, and you should be good.
posted by monospace at 11:15 AM on August 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm 100% for just making fake documents. I've helped friends do it. They're not a bar, you're not breaking some law by lying to them. At most you're breaking the TOS, which if you search around, is probably an unenforceable document anyways.

I'm 100% with juliet banana here.

Even if what they're requiring isn't illegal(if only), and they think that lying to them should be, it isn't.

Another cool thing here, is once you've sent in this "identification", even if you get reported as far as i can tell it just goes in the round file.
posted by emptythought at 12:02 PM on August 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

If you do shut down your FB account, make sure to delete the information in the account first or replace it with spoof data.
posted by daisyk at 1:07 PM on August 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

Please share your story with MyNameIs and here. They have been advocating with fb about this, thought that fb was going to make the (relatively minor) changes they asked for, and basically got nothing. They are trying to document stories to help pressure fb to change their approach.
posted by gingerbeer at 1:25 PM on August 19, 2015 [4 favorites]

Thank you for that gingerbeer. I was wondering if there was any other company who might see the issue with their policies. I'll share there.
posted by grablife365 at 2:00 PM on August 19, 2015

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