Facebook are removing anyone who has registered with a name they don’t believe is real. They haven’t come for my account on there yet but it’s only a matter of time.
Names like Bingo McSprocket will no longer be allowed. They weren’t really allowed in the first place but as long as Bingo caused no trouble, Facebook turned a blind eye.
No longer. They are systematically ‘cleaning up the site’ but that’s not quite what they are really doing.
Stimpy, my co-worker, has a Facebook account. In his real name. A perfectly ordinary real name. Not quite ‘John Smith’ but really not that far from it. Facebook targeted him and demanded he prove who he is – even though they take money from his bank account monthly for a game he subscribes to on the site. I have no idea which game since I ignore all those invitations to waste time on a cartoon farm or any other game. I am a deadly procrastinator anyway, I do not need added distractions.
The receipts for payments to Facebook from a bank account in his name were not enough to convince Facebook that he was using his real name. They want a lot of personal details or they will close the account.
Stimpy is not as daft as he looks (nobody could be) so his last message to them was along the lines of “How do I know who you are? I am not keen to give all these personal details to ‘the facebook team’ because you could be anyone”.
He is right. This is a phishing-scammer’s dream come true. They will be sending out messages from ‘the Facebook team’ insisting that they don’t believe your name is real and demanding you log on through a link to resolve the matter. The link will look like it goes to Facebook but will in fact go to a subdirectory in a Russian tractor factory website.
Scammers are at this sort of thing all the time anyway but now that Facebook are doing it too, it gives their fake emails legitimacy.
And why are Facebook doing this? They aren’t targeting troublemakers. They are picking out random individuals, including those with perfectly ordinary real names. They are not cleaning up the site.
They are collecting data on their members. Data that would be of enormous value to targeted advertising. Sure, the Government have insisted that Facebook clean up the internet because Government believe that Facebook, Twitter and Google run the internet – but for Facebook, this opportunity to boost their ad revenue while claiming ‘politicians made us do it’ is too good to miss.
They will come for me eventually. When they do, they will get a short reponse in two Geldofian monosyllables and I won’t be on Facebook any more.
I might re-join as John Smith, a newsagent born in 1956. If everyone they erased did that, it could turn out to be very funny indeed. A sort of electronic version of the Monty Python ‘Bruces’ sketch but on a vast scale.
Every ‘John Smith’ who is queried for personal details can then send the Geldofian response and re-join later as John Smith, a newsagent of 1956 vintage. We could even all use the same profile pic.
Are they going to wipe out all the ‘John Smith’ accounts? Most of them are real. There are a lot of John Smiths out there.
When they do that, we simply all rejoin as John Davies or another common name which we’d have to agree on before our John Smiths get wiped, and do it all again.
If we keep it up, one day there will be thousands of us.
And then we all rejoin, co-ordinated so we all join within the space of a few minutes, as Dimitri Batguano and see what they make of that.
Yes, their gaffe, their rules, but when they use their ‘free’ service to phish for personal details, I say that makes them fair game.
In this game, it’s Facebook’s move next. When they do finally root me out I will let you all know when John Smith, Newsagent, goes live.
It might be tomorrow or it might take them years to get around to me, since they are working their way through every name on that site, not just the obviously bizarre ones.
When they come for you, have a John Smith ready to go.