Facebook Investigating Accounts With Short Names Like Au?
One day not long ago, blogger and Facebook friend Erik Gordon Bainbridge got an odd message in Facebook, apparently from Facebook, asking whether Wagner James Au was a real life name. (See screencapture on side.) Since we both blog about Second Life, at first he wondered if this was a crackdown on avatar names, which would be expected if odd, since my Facebook name is the one I use in the real not the virtual world, but here's the even stranger thing: This is apparently part of Facebook's effort, as Bainbridge blogs, to go after illegitimate accounts with extremely short names. Strange, because I probably have almost as many Facebook friends with short surnames (say Su, Wu, Ma, along with assorted Aus) as extremely quirky avatar pseudonyms. Adding to the mystery, not long after getting that message from Facebook, Bainbridge tells me the message plain disappeared:
"It's gone," he tells me. "I've looked twice, once this morning and again after getting this message. I can't find any trace of it. It's not in my messages list or anywhere else I've looked. I even tried going back in the history of both computers I've been working on today, but can't find it." So all I'm left with is an unsettling if unconfirmed sense that going by my actual identity might not be enough to satisfy Facebook that I'm really real. So I put the query to folks named Ng or Ip or maybe even Le and Xu - have your Facebook friends got a message from Facebook, asking if you're real?