Facebook De-Activated My Account Demanding a Government ID

Monday was not a cute day for me. I visited my accountant to do my taxes, the preparation for which is a lengthy process as someone who is self-employed and doesn’t use Quicken. (Ugh bookkeeping. Ugh working class background/money fears/so much stuff to work through.)

I got my tax bill (UGH) and then… we finally heard back from the vet. Macy, my beloved Shih Tzu, broke her ankle in February. She had ruptured disc surgery in July and several months of recovery so the chip fracture was an emotionally and financially difficult set back.

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Part of the ankle treatment was having her sedated for an x-ray. Pre-sedation blood work meant we found out by accident that her calcium levels are high. Which could be an indicator of cancer or parathyroid disease or just high calcium which, if left untreated, can deposit minerals in her organs and then cause more disease. The process of figuring it out is one test after another. When your vet calls something an “Easter egg hunt,” that’s not a great sign.

Monday we got the results from her recent special hypercalcemia blood test (this required a special lab and a 7 day wait for the results) and her thyroid is normal but the calcium is still high. Next up, yet another ultrasound. (She’s 13 pounds, they couldn’t ultrasound her neck WHILE they did the abdomen? So fucked up.) It is stressful, expensive, sad and poor Macy.

After the day’s events, I went to Facebook, thinking I could maybe talk to some friends who have been on lengthy dog diagnostic journeys. Or talk to some of my working class femme friends about being self-employed. Like so many times I’ve gone to Facebook, a nice aggregate of people I actually know in real life, I went to my phone browser and popped it in. I was greeted with a login screen, which is odd because I generally stay logged in to Facebook.

Once I logged in, Facebook asked me for my driver’s license. Until I provide them some kind of identity verification from their list, I am locked out of Facebook. Not only am I locked out, but my friends report that they cannot find me, cannot message me and cannot see my profile. Facebook has made it so I no longer exist on their system.

This was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back. I am just trying to live a positive life and right now it’s like death, death, money stuff, illness, now Facebook.

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The problem is, I use a different name, a chosen name, to interact with people in social media. Bevin is my government first name, but because I have a super googleable name, I choose to use a made-up last name on all forms of social media. Bevin Branlandingham is my stage name, but it also provides a great invisible wall between my day job and my life online. I think it is extremely reasonable to make this distinction and I would, in fact, encourage other people to do this with social media, no matter the “privacy settings.”

I would not have the same issue if my name was very common, like Jane Smith, but I still think social media is not a place where your government name should be required.

There are lots of other reasons a person might not use their government name on social media. Here are some reasons that I came up with the last time I wrote a blog post about the Facebook legal name requirement:

1. Trans people and other people for whom their legal name does not represent their gender(s).
2. People whose name is extremely googleable. The John Smiths of the world don’t have the same issues with online content that the Bevin Branlandinghams do.
3. Performers who use facebook to connect with their performance community.
4. Roller Derby folks who want to use their derby name to connect to their community.
5. People whose jobs or careers would be jeopardized by interaction with social media.
6. People for whom a legal name change is a barrier of time/access/money.
7. People who use social media for a specific group that utilizes nicknames.
8. People who don’t want people knowing their legal name in a casual setting.
9. Folks who are hiding from abusive exes/parents/relatives or stalkers.
10. Folks whose countries of citizenship would punish them for speaking about their country.

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After the last hullabaloo over Facebook and real name requirements, I thought Facebook actually listened to the LGBT activists and drag queens who went to them and had meetings with them. Schooling them without being paid tuition. I GUESS FACEBOOK DIDN’T LISTEN.

I had a lot of feelings about being denied access to my Facebook account, on a day when I was already full of lots of difficult feelings.

Lately I’ve also been using Facebook to connect with my communities because not one but two of my friends in different crowds passed away suddenly this past month (one was suicide). It has been really helpful to connect with people around this, lots of whom are old friends who only get in touch with me through Facebook.

It felt really shitty to be isolated from my friends on a day when I kind of needed to reach out. It continues to feel shitty to have to figure out how to get Facebook to verify my “authentic identity” when I have a ton of other stuff that’s more important.

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For example, my allergies are super bad and I need to sit on hold with Callen-Lorde and get an appointment with my provider. I also think dying my hair is more important than going through the debacle that will be the uphill battle to reactivating my Facebook profile.

Since Facebook deactivated my account I have discovered that anything I used Facebook to login to is no longer available to me. For example, I pay monthly for Spotify because it is so easy to stream all the music except now I can’t get into it because my Facebook login won’t work. Same with my meditation program. I will NEVER use a third party login for a website again. By the way, Spotify doesn’t have an email or contact form for customer care–I’m having to contact them via Twitter. I don’t feel comfortable giving my money to places that don’t prioritize customer care so I am going to have to figure out a new music situation. The amount of agita piling on with this Facebook suspension is astounding.

Here are some screen caps:
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Since I don’t ever intend to make my stage name my government name, I don’t have any of the documents they are asking for. Why would I bother? I’ve never subscribed to a magazine as Bevin Branlandingham… but I’ve been featured in magazines as Bevin Branlandingham, presented at conferences, run a successful website, etc… On principle I also think this is shitty. Facebook is kind of the first place people go to to announce a new name, what if they haven’t done anything other than tell the people they love about a new name? Or what if they just (like me) don’t want to use a government name for social media?

I’ve done security measures with Facebook before, answered security questions, verified the identities of my friends in tagged photos. What happened that Facebook now wants to shut down my account and see my library card? I feel like I’m trying to go to a nightclub and the bouncer is demanding my ID.

The ironic thing is that I have a Facebook page with a fake name that is still totally accessible to me! (Rebel Gateau, a loose French version of Rebel Cupcake.) I use it for nightlife promotion so I can friend folks who wanted to get party invites. Facebook I can still get in the back door!

My therapist called me a “woman of my time” because of all of the ways in which I use Facebook. When doing my expenses for taxes in 2014 I paid more money to Facebook for advertising than I paid for printed fliers. We live in a different time. But I guess Facebook doesn’t want my money because it’s money from someone who doesn’t use an “authentic name.” And maybe that’s how they got me in the first place, because my credit card info doesn’t match my Facebook screen name.

I have a lot of rage about this, and it is probably just a place for all my other rage about how mad I am that my friends died and confused I am about my feelings, how frustrated I am about the process about Macy’s diagnosis and how worried I am that if I don’t keep shoveling dollar bills at it that she is going to die. Oh and feelings of helplessness about money, taxes, bookkeeping, getting rid of stuff (the latter being that Queer Exchange is a great place to get rid of stuff).

It would be nice to have access to my friends on Facebook at this time, but I’m just taking a break. Hopeful that most folks have my email or at least remember to google me and get my email from my blog. (It’s on the sidebar.) So far three people have texted asking why they can’t find me on Facebook, so that’s something.

In the meantime, I got a nice Fuck You from Facebook in the form of an email telling me all I have missed in the 48 hours since they deactivated my account.
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I’m totally not kidding. I cannot actually log into my Facebook account, but they email me what I’m missing. Just like being inside a nightclub and coming out to the line of folks waiting outside fruitlessly arguing with a bouncer about IDs telling them what fun everyone is having without you. Facebook, you are an asshole.

I want to tell Facebook “You can’t fire me, I quit” and figure out how to live the social media life I want to without them. And yet, I’m still wondering how I can crowd source my incredible pool of friends so efficiently without Facebook. And I miss creeping my departed friend Laura Mulley’s Facebook feed because I’ve been learning a lot about her since she passed away last month and really appreciated that process and moving through grief.

The intention of this post is to warn folks who don’t use their government name on Facebook–they will come for you. And it will be without warning. So don’t rely on Facebook messenger to get info because poof, out of nowhere, Facebook will rip it from you unless you want to prepare all of these docs ahead of time. Maybe if I had a couple of weeks’ warning that they were going to ask me I could have tried to get a library card in my chosen name.

I can’t manage my Queer Fat Femme Facebook Fan Page now because I can’t get to it without my Facebook account. So I will simply have to use other social media outlets to tell people about my performances and life.

If you want to find me: Twitter (good articles/media recommendations), Instagram (my dog, my partner, my babely friends and adventures) and Tumblr (whatever goes on Tumblr).

I’m still a positive person (my motto about my attitude is to not allow my personal tragedy to interfere with my ability to do good hair, where good hair is ultimately believing the good in life) so I can’t leave it on an FU Facebook note. Instead, here’s a great Dolly Parton quote.

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This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. I’m having the same problem and I don’t feel comfortable giving them my ID or my Birth Certificate or my Social Security Card or ANYTHING like that. I am SO MAD right now, I could kill someone! I’m even using my real name and everything.

    Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!

  2. I have an Idea.
    If everyone who has been booted out like us, creates a new account and then starts reporting every name they can, every chance they can, we might be able to upset enough people so that they make so much noise that they have to change there policy.
    Everything I have read has told me that facebook has made it open slather for people to report false names, this is the chink in there armor, this is how we get them back.
    We take away there users, we overload there workers, and we create a stink that goes viral without facebook.

  3. I would not give them any ID or phone number, if mike zuckerberg can give his dog a facebook profile without verify the Dog’s drivers license, facebook.com/beast.the.dog/ what makes he think you should show your ID? so he can sell it and make profits? anyway, you are useless to facebook if you don’t give them any personal info. so they locked my account, I photo-shopped a fake ID and unlocked my account, then I saved everything I needed and closed my account then opened up one dozen new accounts… let facebook spend time to figure them out.. I wanted to know how smart its system works.

  4. Hey! Did you ever get back onto your facebook? I’ve just had the same thing happen to one of my accounts. I’m already depressed as it is. All I wanted to do was play Candy Crush. 🙁 In my depression, that’s the only thing I even cared to do and now that was ripped from me. 🙁

  5. Got booted too BUT I did send in ID and was reactivated by Facebook with my legal name but then the very next day I was booted again. Said my ID (driver’s license) wasn’t enough. Wrf?! I sent in my marriage certificate, utility bill, library card, driver’s license again and it’s crickets, absolutely nothing. Some bullshit. I hate Facebook. I wish there were a way to reach out to all the same people elsewhere.

  6. Same here. I am PISSED. Fuck Mark Zuckerberg. What kills me is a) they lie all over the media that you can now use a stage name, and that they give 7 days warning, neither of which I got the opportunity for, and b.) not a single reason they give for this BS precludes them giving you a few days warning so you can at least disentangle all the services you’ve got that use your soon-to-be-dead FB account for authentication, and download your photos so you don’t lose them.

  7. This just happened to me… It’s an attempt to monitor what you say that might be against the government.

  8. A few days ago FB asked me to provide a government issued ID ,I just uploaded a picture of me and they blocked my account , Okay if thats the new policy ,I can understand that ,but ,yesterday I created a new account on FB,used the same username ,uploaded the same pictures of me and there is no mentioning of any kind of ID necessary to create a account ,so my question is …If it is a new policy ,why is it not obligatory for everyone and why not from the start …

  9. I wish the whole world would stop using Facebook. That would be the best, fuck you, back to Zuckerberg. Money hungry sell-out he is…he doesn’t care about the people. I asked to just be able to log in and save my pictures and then delete my profile. Nope. Not happening without proof. What a joke. When did a social media website become such a controlled, serious, government website? Oh, right, thanks Zuckerberg.

  10. Just been deactivated after 8 yrs. For the same thing . I have same reasons as many of you, for not using all of my full name . I do not want to put my daughter or myself in any danger. And i am not passing my Gov’rnmnt id’s to anyone . . That’d be just crazy . . They take me as i am or they can take a running jump .

  11. FED BOOK…… they are tying the pages to our digital permanent life records makes it easier for NSA to profile us

  12. I have the same thing with facebook even though I was using my real name. Instead of sending them a pic of a Gov ID I sent them a picture of the email that I would send to them asking them why they are persecuting me like this. I got a standard reply (of course) which said my name doesn’t follow real naming protocols (or whatever) even though it is my real name. So I used someone else’s fb account and searched for myself and found 2 other people with the same name as me (which is easily possible in this day and age) and I could look at their timelines. So I replied to their email saying that I found other people with the same name as me yet their account are active and why aren’t they locked out too. But of course no one reads these emails, but every now and again I will re-email them using the response box on the email asking me for a photo … someone may eventually read them (yeah right).

    But there is not a chance in hell, that I will ever send them a picture of any form of Government ID even if I remove all the stuff they don’t want from the picture. As far as I’m concerned it shouldn’t even be legal for them to ask for such a thing, especially in this day and age of identity theft.

    The thing that really pisses me off about all this is that they let anyone sign up for their service with any name they want and don’t ask for any kind of proof at sign up … if they really need this crap why don’t they ask at sign up and nowhere in their terms and conditions does it state that they can ask for your Gov ID (which kinda proves it’s not legal if they ain’t got it in the only legal document they have on their entire site). If they asked for a picture of a Gov ID when you signed up Facebook would be like a Ghost Town tbh.

    1. THIS. I’m pissed as HELL at facebook, this is the stupid form of verification request. If this was so important they could ask for it at sign up but they KNOW that fewer people would actually sign up. It’s fucking social media, not something extremely important.

  13. I used all the correct details for my account, except I put a different first name for my profile.

    Am I supposed to risk having my abusive Ex find me, or his friends that have threatened, in writing that they will Kill & Rape Me (reported this to Police and apparently nothing can be done until something happens…So I have to be raped or killed before anything will happen to this people) or how about the guy that molested me when I was 11, am I supposed to have everything out there for anyone and everyone to find me…

    So, as you can see, I along with many others have plenty of reasons to not use Govt. names.

    So fuck you Facebook. Fuck you so much.

    1. The same thing happened to me last week and I am using my real name just shortened to hide from an abusive ex and they locked me out and won’t reinstate until I send in government id. It’s bullshit. I’m not sending them shit. I don’t see them locking out user who have wacked out names that you know are not real. Its unbelievable.

  14. Bevin!~ Let’s start a riot, seriously. I am going into my second week being blocked on FB.
    I live in a small town where everyone knows everyone and where I do not care to be friends with everyone on FB. Not only that I have an old boyfriend who was a violent person and threatened my life. So while I think I have him blocked but whose to say that he can’t access my real name another way. So I use a nickname. All 205 of my friends know who I am and what I about. No harm no foul. For whatever reason FB has demanded me to verify my name. I have not done anything that I am aware of that would cause them to harass me. I am sure that you can say the same but they know they have power and are abusing it. If I had done something offensive or caused an issue then I would understand. I feel this is just another way that Google and FB can invade your privacy. I have pictures that were on my FB that are now lost. I refuse to give them that information.
    There’s petitions that can be started to possibly change this bullshit policy. Since you blog, feel free to contact me if you are down to make some changes…

  15. I lost my account on the same day. I use my real name (I’m not terribly google-able). I never did anything I wasn’t supposed to. I’ve had that account for over 7 years, ran my business from there for a few. I moved to the other side of the world 4 months ago. They logged me out in the middle of a conversation I was having with my sister on chat. No explanation other than “fraudulent activity.” And of course the link “If you feel there has been a mistake, click here.” Except I can’t even report that there’s been a mistake without uploading ID. I’ve decided to live without and resort to snail mail and emails. I wish more people would do the same — perhaps Facebook would take a hint. I’m right there with you.

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