Facebook Aliases, Mark Zuckerberg, and Integrity

Kari TervoOpinion, Tech7 Comments

What’s in a name? If you’re Mark Zuckerberg, whatever he decides. Do you use an alias on social media? Well, based on that decision alone, Zuckerberg has decided to degrade your character. He said about using an alias on Facebook, “Having two identities is an example of a lack of integrity.”

There are so many things wrong with that statement. As covered thoroughly by Karyne Levy at Business Insider, having an alias can be an example of lots of things, even in people without supposed moral turpitude. Serious repercussions can result from online transparency or trickery when using your real name. Like what? Here, Levy cites this helpful graphic by Mike Woolson that has been fervently circulating throughout Facebook:

Some good reasons to want to use an alias on Facebook. By Mark Woolson.

Some good reasons to want to use an alias on Facebook. By Mike Woolson. Click to enlarge.

Anyone from people who don’t want to come out to their parents to people who are in the witness protection program might want to use fake names on Facebook. There are plenty of good reasons that people of good character might not want to operate under their real names on Facebook. And I’m not sure why Zuckerberg hasn’t thought this through, instead relying on knee-jerk assumptions. And maybe, his ick factor about drag queens, who are the ones who most effectively raised this issue to public awareness (Drag queens are good at getting attention. Drag queens should be an essential part of all social justice outreach).

Also, what is Zuckerberg saying about Facebook’s own “solution,” which is to have a fan page? That’s pretty clearly. . .operating under an alias on Facebook. I checked the fan page for Lana Del Rey. Even though she was born Elizabeth Grant, she has a blue checkmark next to her name. She’s operating under an alias on Facebook with Facebook’s explicit endorsement!

Why is that okay, but not okay to use your personal page as your performer name? It doesn’t make inherent sense. Yeah, bad guys can and do operate under aliases on Facebook, pretending they are people they’re not. But why should that possibility override the considerations of people at risk, as well as general logic?

And about that blue checkmark verifying that a page is operated by the team of a specific, usually very famous, performer: What is Zuckerberg saying about Twitter here? Twitter pioneered the verification system with its green checkmark, which Facebook emulates. Yet Zuckerberg seems to be obliquely criticizing Twitter, because all kinds of people operate under all kinds of aliases over there. And you don’t see Dick Costolo (I had to look that up; point: Zuckerberg) saying that his users who use aliases lack integrity.

The known risks faced by many people who use aliases far outweigh the hypothetical risks he may fear. If Mark Zuckerberg deserves to be known as an effective CEO, he’ll listen to feedback, re-think this issue, and pedal back on those words and his policy. Now, that would be showing integrity.

Kari Tervo enjoys pop culture as a universal language. Sorry, Esperanto and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department: Bieber wins. She’s not sure if she’s supposed to be writing about herself in the first or third person right now, so she’s going to act like someone does this kind of work for her. Why ruin the mystique?

Kari reviews zines for Pop Culture Beast in her regular column, Blog Zine. She also provides pop culture opinion and analysis about whatever she gets the urge to write about.

Kari TervoFacebook Aliases, Mark Zuckerberg, and Integrity
  • Mike Woolson

    Great piece, and I’m totally flattered to see my meme there. Just fyi though, it’s Mike Woolson, not Mark Woolson (and it was Unkle Mikey on Facebook till my account got suspended, just as the meme hit 20,000 shares). I had changed it for safety reasons related to my wife’s job, but had to switch back to the real one so those 20,000 shares would not vanish.

  • I also had my account killed and I’m not even a Sister (although my boyfriend is becoming one). In fact I felt really alone in this horrible crap. I do not want my abusive family finding me, since I realized any interaction with them triggered horrible PTSD in me. I no longer ever go by that name I unfortunately have to have on my birth certificate, but can’t have a legal name change at the moment (but will the second that I can).

    Facebook, well over a year ago, rejected the name I gave them. The one I go by. I sent them all the proof that it’s how I’m known to everyone. They wouldn’t listen. They don’t care. They simply made my last name “Bear because it was part of my email address, I suppose.” I told them that wasn’t my name. They ignored me. At least my family wouldn’t be able to find me.

    Then this started, and I wrote a blog post in support of the sisters: http://rayredspider.blogspot.com/2014/09/farcebook-asks-businesses-about-its.html

    Next day, my account was killed, as though Bear is so unusual. The site insists I can’t have it back unless I send them ID. Oh I sent them ID alright. http://rayredspider.blogspot.com/2014/09/facebook-and-drag-queen-ask-who-is.html

    Mark Zuckerberg does NOT care about protecting people. I could use a fake ID to get an account, so their policies very well might not protect people at all. But forcing a person to use their name will, ABSOLUTELY allow abusers to find their victims, guaranteed. Facebook, it was nice knowing you but it’s over now.

  • mro1337

    facebook was funded and started by people who have datamining businesses. this is a FACT.
    do not give facebook any of your real information aside from where you live.
    dont put your employer, your real birthdate, your address (it asks this sometimes!)……..

    GIVE THEM NOTHING!

    • Kiboko

      I didn’t even give them where I live and I have location switched off. I didn’t like the new changes where if someone on my friend’s list ‘likes’ something relating to a company or on a third party site using their Facebook ID, the said companies and third party site are allowed to take MY data. So I made sure that any data they could take was completely and utterly useless. I also have to use a pseudonym on Facebook for my own safety. I’m not prepared to compromise that to feed Zuckerberg’s insatiable need for data. He can do one.

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  • is that you bob?

    karma zuckerberg, karma.

  • citizen nada nada

    Oh yeah Zetterberg has it wrong….If he wants to insist on having real names fine, it doesn’t mean he has to display them though….that’s where he gets lost…You could technically say that makes him a sponsor of terrorism, his position is very hard to defend…