Because they haven’t suffered enough indignities throughout history, Native Americans are now apparently being targeted by Facebook as having “fake” names.
News began to spread when Facebook told Dana Lone Hill, who is Lakota, that her name was not “authentic.” The company had caused an uproar in the past when they closed the accounts of queer artists using stage names even though many of those artists used their stage names more often than their birth names.
As one writer at the time noted, “There are the cases of [other] people who have chosen to use alternate names, or pseudonyms, on Facebook precisely because they don’t want to be found there by employers, family members, or nosey journalists.” The protesting drag queens added that transgender people and survivors of domestic violence often use alternate Facebook names too for their own personal protection.
The protests (supposedly) led to a change in Facebook’s user name policy. But that change didn’t allow folks to just start registering with any name they liked. Rather, Facebook’s product chief Christopher Cox said the company would build better tools to help authenticate people’s preferred names while still safeguarding the network against ill-intentioned fake name users (like the infamous hooker-bot, Britney Yolo McCanteven).
In short, Facebook pledged to make additional hoops for people like Dana Lone Hill to jump through just to prove who they are — a move that reveals the company’s inherent ignorance of Native American culture and cluelessness about how making Native Americans feel welcome online. Maybe it’s time for Lone Hill and other Native Americans to organize a protest as well.