Facebook, nymwars, and real names

Last year, Moritz Hardt wrote this in his article on fairness:

Suppose a social network attempted to classify user names into ‘real’ and ‘fake’. Anybody still remember Nymwars? White male American names are pretty straightforward to deal with compared with ethnic names. In some ethnic groups, names tend to be far more diverse. Fewer people (if any) carry the same name—a typical sign of a ‘fake’ profile among white Americans.

The lesson is that statistical patterns that apply to the majority might be invalid within a minority group.

Last month, this happened on Facebook:

My mother’s is Lone Hill, my father’s is Lone Elk. Even though word wise they are very different, the meanings are worlds apart as to how they were both given. And both sides of my family carry the name with pride. We also still practice the ceremony of individual name giving and I have often included my Lakota name in the parenthesis or nickname option on facebook. That name is Oyate Wachinyanpi, given to me by my father, meaning People Depend On. My children each have their own individual Lakota names as do my brother and his children, all given to us by our father, grandfather.

That being said Facebook shut me out for using my father’s and my mother’s last names. I switched it back to my mother’s last name and they let me sign on for a few hours, then shut me back out again when I was trying to comment. When I tried to log back in same message as before except they wanted proof of ID. To date I have sent 3 forms of ID, one with a picture, my library card, and a piece of mail in file form. I received a generated message to be patient while they investigate to see if I am a real person.


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