Ken sending a personal plea on Facebook to former Facebook President Sean Parker
Facebook recently announced plans to make it easier for people who go a name other than their official legal name to continue using that pseudonym on Facebook --
Facebook will now allow users to provide details on why they’ve chosen a certain name for their account if it’s not their legal name. Facebook will now allow users who are flagged for using a possibly inauthentic name to be able to get back into their locked accounts more easily. And the burden of proof will now be placed upon the people who flag a name as fake, according to [Facebook VP] Schultz. Those reporting an allegedly fake name will have to provide some evidence, in an effort to prevent trolling, a frequent complaint among trans users.
However, none of this is much comfort to Internet pioneer Ken "R.U. Sirius" Goffman, who tells me he's still banned from using Facebook as R.U. Sirius, despite making a personal plea to Sean Parker, Facebook's first President (you know, Justin Timberlake in the movie), who's a personal fan of Sirius' influential magazine Mondo 2000. (With a masthead listing the editor-in-chief as being, you know, R.U. Sirius.) In fact, Ken tells me, his efforts to communicate with Facebook are pretty Kafka-esque:
"[T]hey reactivated my account… under just my real name without responding to or acknowledging the R.U. Sirius part of my request or the attachment showing R.U. Sirius and Ken Goffman occupy the same corporeality," he says. Worse, he had important data on his now-dead Sirius account he could no longer access:
"I had some data on Messenger that I was using to embark on a new phase of my Mondo 2000 history project, I was anxious to get back on so I finally submitted to their formal request giving them my official ID (with sensitive parts covered) and I also attached a screen shot of a Washington Post article that contained the phrase 'Ken Goffman also known as R.U. Sirius' in the first graph. In the area that allows for text I explained that I’d already dealt with this twice or three times (can’t remember), that I’d reached an agreement to be Ken ‘RU Sirius’ Goffman and I was happy with that compromise and that it was important to me to be reinstated under that name." But so far, nothing doing.
He has three top objections to Facebook's Real Names policy:
"1: That they block you from FB without a warning. I had some data on there that I needed for my work. Fortunately it wasn’t something due immediately. What if I was communicating with someone only on Messenger and they were going to pick me up from somewhere or meet me about business somewhere? Obviously, there are more serious things that could be at stake than those, but no point in being maudlin.
"2: They don’t seem to have any human customer contact available. You used to be able to find some if you tried really hard. Now, as far as I can tell, it’s completely impossible (correct me if I’m wrong). I think companies of a certain size should have to make the opportunity to take up an issue with an actual human being available and easy to find and within a period of time that’s reasonable for the person and also the company (nobody assumes that with 1 billion people they’ll be instantly responsive.)
"3: That you can’t legitimize your pseudonym as something you use as a writer or etc... at least not at the first 'firewall' you come to. I know people do it but I’m still not sure how I communicate with anyone there."
Maybe some or all of those problems will be fixed when Facebook introduces its changes to the enforcement of real names, but for now, at least, one of the first people to popularize virtual reality is still blocked from using the services of the world's largest virtual reality company with the name he used to do the popularizing.
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