When a man named Phuc Dat Bich posted a photo of his passport online, he wasn’t looking to become a viral sensation. He just wanted Facebook to recognize that he wasn’t trying to use a fake name to set up a social media account.
But the Vietnamese-Australian has since ended up on websites from one end of the globe to the other, and his predicament has shone a light on a serious issue for many folks whose ethnic names make them a target of racism — even unintentional racism.
Facebook has become a particularly hairy place for folks like Bich because of its much-maligned “real name” policy that has prompted the social media site to block countless minorities whose names don’t fit a white, Euro-centric naming pattern. The company has promised to do away with its policy, but people are still getting flagged… and it’s not just names that sound like curse words that have gotten people banned from the social media site. Take a look at some of the monikers that have caused their owners to tangle with the Zuckerberg empire:
It’s the name of a James Cameron movie and a term that refers to a graphic image used to represent you online. But it also happens to be the last name of an Arizona couple, both of whom were banned from Facebook in August because their surname was flagged as being fake.
2. Lone Elk
When Dana Lone Hill changed her last name from her mother’s maiden name, Lone Hill, to her father’s last name, Lone Elk, she was banned from using her account. A member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe, she had to send various forms of ID to prove who she really is.
Isis Anchalee is the woman behind the viral #ILookLikeAnEngineer hashtag and active in women’s rights. But the 22-year-old lost her Facebook account recently because her first name is that of a terrorist group. And she’s not the only one. It’s happened to other folks named Isis, like Isis King of Ontario, who fought the same battle earlier this year.
A Byzantine monk took the name Father Moses Wright when he joined the clergy, but Facebook said that wasn’t “real” enough and forced him to go by the name he had at birth: Michael Wright. So what’d he do? He got a legal name change to Moses.
5. Something Long and Complicated
Doesn’t sound real? Well, it is. William Wood changed his name legally to Something Long and Complicated, and when Facebook had a problem with that, he fought to get his page reinstated.