Salman Rushdie Wins Name Battle Against Facebook

By Jennifer Moire Comment

What’s in a name? A lot if you ask Facebook.

Noted author Salman Rushdie won a brief yet hard fought social media battle against Facebook yesterday after the site changed the prize-winning writer’s name.

His weapon of choice? Twitter.

Salman is actually Rushdie’s middle name. His real name is Ahmed, which he never uses and appears only on his passport.

Yesterday morning, Rushdie took to Twitter and announced that Facebook had deactivated his account two days earlier.

The social network asked for proof of identity and changed his account to Ahmed Rushdie, which is how the U.K. writer is identified on his passport. He had never used his first name, Ahmed, he pointed out; the world knows him as Salman.

Rushdie gave a play-by-play of the battle with Facebook via his verified Twitter account, @SalmanRushdie. Rushdie tweeted that he “had to send a photo of my passport page” to Facebook in order to confirm his identify, yet he added that Facebook insisted he use his first name.

Facebook’s policy insists that users are identified by their real names, ignoring pseudonyms or use of middle or given names.

As social networks, such as Facebook continue to grow, their naming policies will continue to evolve. That’s especially true for Facebook, since the channel has an astounding 800 million users, and serves as a gateway to so many other sites.Other social networking sites, such as Twitter, have a much more relaxed policy. That’s one reason why fake celebrity accounts on Twitter are the rage (our sister blog, AllTwitter, has written extensively about Twitter’s policy and fake accounts.)

Some of the writer’s more amusing Tweets? How about asking whether Facebook would have turned J. Edgar Hoover into John Hoover…

Or demanding, “Where are you hiding, Mark? Come out here and give me back my name!” He was referring, of course, to Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg.

At the end of this post is a look at Rushdie’s Facebook page midday Monday and how it looked after Facebook reversed course.

Do you think Facebook’s policy regarding the use of real names need to be updated?