Will the Real John Cusack Please Join Facebook?

These days it seems like almost everyone has a Facebook page. However, keeping that page can be difficult.

Steve Webb, a British member of Parliament, had a Facebook account for about a year and accumulated 2,500 friends. But, his account was summarily suspended, because Facebook thought he was impersonating a member of Parliament.

Many others with “interesting” names have been blocked from registration or had their accounts suspended: John Cusack, Hiroko Yoda, Melissa Holds The Enemy, Robin Kills the Enemy, Jeremy Brave-Heart, James Doe, Dave Jelly, Andy Gay, Eliot Beer, Patrick Lord, Kate Beever, Beta Yee, and Johnny and Rae Disco. Ironically, some of these people were able to register using derivatives of their real names that were acceptable to Facebook, but quickly discovered that their friends didn’t recognize the new names.

The Facebook Privacy and Public Policy spokesman Simon Axton has told the Chicago Sun-times that Facebook’s user operations team frequently sweeps the system to eradicate fake accounts. He says that mistakes are eventually fixed, if the person is able to prove their identity.

Facebook’s Terms of Use give Facebook broad discretion over accounts. An account may be suspended without Facebook giving any reason. There is an appeal process, and most of the accounts are reactivated, but the process takes time and the effect can be devastating to the account holders who put a lot of effort into making friends, uploading data, and creating profiles.

When there has been suspected copyright infringement, the DMCA requires the disputed material be put back online within 14 business days after receiving notification of a good-faith belief that the material is not infringing. Unfortunately, Facebook isn’t bound in the same way. There is no guarantee the account will be reactivated at all, let alone in a timely manner.

The lesson Facebook should learn: Sometimes a name is just a name.

Daliah Saper of Saper Law

Daliah Saper of Saper Law

Daliah Saper, special to LexTekReport

~ by CDLB on March 17, 2009.

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