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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Are you serious, Facebook?

R.U. Sirius 

R.U. Sirius got into a spot of bother with Facebook recently — they booted him off under the site's "true names" policy. He's back on, but I think Facebook is in the wrong here, for reasons I'll take a minute to explain.

Now, Facebook's policy is not my policy — I don't care what names people use if they are kind enough to post comments on this blog.

But I do think I understand the impulse behind Facebook's rules. If you've ever posted something on the Internet and been smeared by someone hiding behind a phony name (it's happened to me), then you can understand where Facebook is coming from. People tend to be more responsible in their Internet comments if the comments can be attached to the person. If Mark Zuckerberg doesn't want somebody to call himself "Reginald Rootabaga" so he can call somebody a "racist" or a "Communist" or a "pervert," well, I get that.

But that's not what we're talking about here. R.U. Sirius aka Ken Goffman isn't trying to hide who he is when he uses the "R.U. Sirius" pen name, on Facebook, or anywhere else.  Just the opposite — he wants people who buy books to get to know the name. He posts his photo on his Twitter account, and it's easy to find out more about him. 

If anything, Facebook ought to insist that R.U. Sirius post under that name — because that's the name most people know him as. And it should make the rock star whose memoir I am currently reading post as "Elvis Costello." Most people are not going to know who "Declan MacManus" is. As far as most people can tell, "Elvis Costello" has become  his "true name."

Incidentally, I just checked, and on Facebook, Elvis Costello is "Elvis Costello." So Facebook isn't just silly, it's inconsistent.