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But is that really a name?
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Sometimes it is hard to determine when a name is a name. Native American names, for instance, can be misleading to the American eye. But let me assure you that a Mr. Big Horn and a Ms. Flying Earth do exist and that those are their legal names.

About two months ago The Seattle Times published an article about how Facebook deals with these names: it simply shuts down the accounts. You can read the article here . Facebook faces (no pun intended) an interesting conundrum: How can it keep its integrity as a network if people use fake names? But then, how can it accurately determine which names are fake without extensive research or some (probably labor intensive) proof of identity screening?

I wrote last time about Jonnathan Smmith. Would Facebook consider this a fake name or is it simply an alternate spelling? He wouldn’t be able to prove that it is his name because legally, it isn’t. Yet if you search for the last name “Fingernail” (Native American), at least four people appear who seem to legitimately have this name. I do, however, question the other six results that appear on the first page. What then should Facebook do with a name containing “Fingernail?” We may laugh at the name “Fingernail” but we could also simply consider it an ethnic name. Perhaps we should consider Facebook’s action discrimination against ethnic names. Or perhaps we should consider it an antifraud measure.

Whichever way you view it, it strikes me how easily an ethnic name can be misunderstood. It’s my job to understand them correctly, in the abstract, unconnected to a person. That way, if someone uses the name “Fingernail” or “Smmith,” for example, we can understand the names and the people as Native American or English (baring Enhanced Neighborhood Analytics) respectively. And I frequently get a good laugh imagining people going through life with some of the names I come across, the type that would cause Facebook to shut down accounts.

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