Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Open Letter to Facebook

Disclaimer: a privacy person at Facebook was in touch with me through mutual friends, but at this time has merely reiterated the request for ID. Hopefully, she is working back channels to help.
letter to fb
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has posted an open letter to Facebook about the social media’s authentic name policy. You can sign this open letter on that link.

“Even though Facebook claims it has improved its policy, users continue to get kicked off the site, losing access to support groups, an essential political platform, and all their contacts and content. Some users have even had accounts reinstated with their legal names, putting their safety at risk.”

This resonates with me on so many levels, especially the loss of access to support groups. I use one support group for my autoimmune disorders and it’s on Facebook. In addition to losing the connection with so many people in one convenient spot, I lost the one support group that truly helped me make it through life’s challenges. Good googli moo! I just admitted that social media is truly a worthy endeavor.

Here are the demands:

• Commit to allowing pseudonyms and non-legal names on your site in appropriate circumstances, including but not limited to situations where using a legal name would put a user in danger, or situations where local law requires the ability to use pseudonyms.

• Require users filing real name policy abuse reports to support their claims with evidence of abusive behavior.

• Create a compliance process through which users can confirm their identities without submitting government ID.

• Give users technical details and documentation on the process of submitting identity information such as where and how it is stored, for how long, and who can access it. Provide users with the ability to submit this information using PGP or another common form of encrypted communication, so they may protect their identity information during the submission process.

• Provide a robust appeals process for users locked out of their accounts, including the ability to speak to a real Facebook employee.

I openly signed the letter and encourage others to do the same. If proof of identity – if real names – were so vital to social media, it would be a requirement to sign up. People would know this openly beforehand.

A variety of groups signed the letter, including the ACLU, the Center for Democracy and Technology, Digital Rights Foundation, One World Platform, Global Voices Advocacy, and Human Rights Watch. Given the incredible amount of damage that this policy can cause to people – from direct threats to indirect – one would think that Facebook would rethink this policy. Perhaps the most frustrating is that once you are blocked for their review….you cannot reach anyone there to discuss it.

To be clear: my real name is K Royal and I support social media. I loved Facebook and its potential.

signed,
Authentically K Royal

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Fired by Facebook?!

Screenshot_2015-09-25-12-31-22I was recently fired by Facebook*. Not as an employee, as a customer – even more shocking, right?

Here’s the thing…I opened my Facebook account and saw this message – confirm my identity. As a privacy attorney, I thought nothing of it….wow, a social media platform adding extra security steps. Except it’s not a security step for my account.

The next screen asked me to enter the name by which I am conventionally known. Well, I entered my name “K Royal” which rather than thanking me for my prompt attention took me to a page in which I was asked to submit government identification to prove I am me. I was outraged! and that is an understatement.

Turns out, if one does not wish to upload two forms of government ID, one can choose from about 30 non-government ID options, but at least one must contain a photo and date of birth.

Funny enough, I had just posted my nursing badge in the whole #nursesunite campaign against TheView for mocking Miss Colorado, although Ellen Degeneres countered that brilliantly.

This is truly and utterly ridiculous. Let me count the reasons:

  1. It’s a social media site. Not a government benefits site or healthcare or financial or education. Social. Fricking. Media.
  2. Facebook has questionable privacy policies – have you heard?
  3. They’ve been engaged in this ridiculousness for a couple of years and caught some heat for it.
  4. They say that there is no algorithm to detect potentially unreal names, but they tend to target groups of people.
  5. They say they want your “authentic” name – the one you go by on a daily basis. How many of us would be caught by that, because the name we go by is not on government ID? In this digitized world, it is very difficult to get government ID or an ID with a picture and a date of birth showing a nickname rather than a birth name. Consider my cousin, Skinny, who has gone by the nickname “Skinny” for 70 years or so. The only ones who even knew his government ID name were his mom, brother, and the Social Security Administration. He was forced to change it to Michael on Facebook, because they would not accept the name he went by in daily life and he did not want to upload three forms of ID to prove Skinny. I was ready to battle for him, but he decided to acquiesce. I should’ve battled, cause look at me now.
  6. My name is K Royal. Yes, at one time, there was something else there, but it is no longer. Has not been for many years. I have gone by K since at least I was six years old. I have about 100 different stories behind my name, but the point is- K Royal is my true, legal, documented, full name.
  7. What the heck will Facebook do with my ID if I do send it? which I won’t.
  8. It is easier for them to Google “K Royal privacy” than it is for them to review anything I did send.
  9. Sending ID over open email is utterly, unequivocally stupid.
  10. Facebook does not offer a secure alternative to sending ID, anyway. And if they did, I still would not trust them.

So I have been fired from Facebook. One of the privacy professionals who truly enjoyed them. They have not yet answered my communication to them asking about it. I am apparently no one to them, but on the other hand – I just might finally get an instagram account!

Fired.

Don’t let the digital door hit you in the button on the way out.

*Facebook is a trademark owned by Facebook, Inc. any other trademarks used in this post are the owned marks of their respective companies.