Facebook is a notorious stickler when it comes to people using their real names when they register profiles on the popular social media site.
The world’s largest social network recently ran afoul of European regulators for requiring users to register their real names on the site.
Now, a couple in Prescott, Arizona is finding out what it is like to be banished from Facebook’s social fiefdom over a last name dispute.
It all comes down to the surname “Avatar”, which Facebook believes is not a real last name for people.
Balizar Orion Avatar, who goes by the name Boa, has a full name worthy of a science fiction movie, but it is his last name that Facebook has a problem with.
Boa says that his surname Avatar actually means “May the Lord protect the king, son of light in deity human form” in Sanskrit.
He and his wife, Audrey, say that Facebook banned them because the social networking giant will not accept their last name as a legitimate surname.
Facebook recently deleted Boa’s personal profile page and they have refused to allow his wife to change her profile from her maiden name to her married name on the site.
What’s more, Facebook requested that the couple show proof, in the form of driver licenses and other personal identification, that their last name really is Avatar.
A Facebook representative told reporters that some words and names are flagged for being suspected fakes and Avatar is one of those flagged names.
The Avatars believe that Facebook has flagged their last name due to the popular movie by the same name.
Facebook claims they are working to get the Avatar’s profile pages back online.
A Facebook representative said that the company is committed to allowing people to use their real names on the site.
Facebook believes that when people use their real names it makes them more accountable for their online activities and helps Facebook fight fake accounts that can be used for fraud, harassment or identity theft.
Facebook currently has three ways that people can prove their identity when their name is in dispute:
1. Government Identification
Any government-issued identification that includes a person’s name and date of birth or their name and photo on it.
Some examples of government ID’s that Facebook accepts are: passports, voter identification cards, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, marriage certificates, tribal cards, green cards, immigration papers and national ID cards.
2. Two Non-Government ID’s
When using non-government identification, Facebook will need to see two forms of personal identification with matching names and at least one of the ID’s must contain a photo or your date of birth.
Some examples of non-government ID’s that Facebook accepts include: checks, permits, credit cards, utility bills, school identification, library cards, pay stubs, medical records, bank statements, social security cards, employment verification, magazine subscription information and membership ID’s.
3. Three Forms of Identification
For people using non-government identification that does not include a photo or data of birth from option #2 above, Facebook will need a third form of personal identification that contains a birth date or photo that matches the information on your Facebook account.
These personal identification requirements can add up to a big hassle for most people not to mention an invasion of people’s privacy.
We are anxiously waiting to see what Facebook does to the first person who tries to sign up on the site using the name “Emoji”.
For more information on Facebook’s insatiable need for people’s personal information, see our blog post Facebook’s Growing Appetite For Personal Data.