I’m not a great fan of social media, as I see far too much tripe on them, but at the same time I appreciate their usefulness as promotional tools for my career and to help me reach the people who read my work, and vice versa. I’ve had a Facebook account for a long time and have come to enjoy reading updates from friends and colleagues, despite my initial reservations about the site.

However, I was appalled to be informed yesterday that my account has been locked, simply because Facebook believes I’m not using my real name or identity, and that in order to have an account I have to prove who I am to them, or change my user name to my ‘legal name’. That will be difficult, since I’m already using my legal name. It’s now up to Facebook to decide whether the evidence I’ve sent them (an image of my driving license) is enough to convince them I’m telling the truth. This strong arm tactic, allegedly, is to make their site ‘safer’ for users. In fact, the opposite is true.

Wendy Darling sent me a link to https://www.change.org/p/facebook-allow-performers-to-use-their-stage-names-on-their-facebook-accounts which explains a lot about this infuriating campaign on Facebook’s part. There is a petition to sign, which I have added my name to.

From a cursory glance at all the comments on the above page, it’s clear that amongst those who are most affected by this thuggish tactic are people in the transgender community. These individuals are entitled to use the names they choose, and if they are performers or artists of some kind, then it’s even more important they’re allowed that freedom. Well known performers, actors and musicians, also have good reason to maintain their privacy. And really, can we believe people such as Lady Gaga (supposing she or others of her kind have FB pages) would have their accounts locked under these new rules? I doubt it somehow. It’s only us ‘lesser beings’ who are affected.

Safety on the internet comes from privacy, and I’m quite sure that those in charge of Facebook are fully aware of that. They’re quite happy to let people post offensive material of all kinds, with scant to no penalties, yet target ‘innocent’ creative people in this way. We can only assume it’s because forcing people to move to ‘Like’ pages, (instead of having an ordinary account), with its attendant need to pay for promotional services, is behind their decision to act this way. Any talk of ‘safety’ is utter, unadulterated bull shit.

As for people like myself, do I have to make up a name in order to have a Facebook account now? It’s farcical that my cat Pashti is allowed her own page with no questions asked, yet my own is locked. I just wish there was an alternative, because I’d wash my hands of Facebook in an instant if I could, but at the moment it is the biggest site of its kind and it’s where I post news to those interested in my work, as well as hear news about the publishing industry and keep in touch with friends. So at the moment, I’m just stumped and locked out, awaiting judgement.

This has come at the worst time, since my new novel ‘The Moonshawl’ is out next week, and I planned to use Facebook as my primary promotional tool for it. My Goodreads account is also linked to my Facebook account, so I guess I’m going to have to try and remove all the Facebook tentacles from that too, so I can use it again. Facebook tries to invade all parts of your online life, so if you’ve fully bought into that, I imagine a lockout of the kind I’m experiencing is even more devastating. Fortunately, I’ve kept its invasive tendencies to a minimum.

Anyone reading this will no doubt be aware by now how angry I am about this situation. But I won’t be the only one and no doubt others in my profession will soon be similarly picked on, if they’ve not already had a visit from the Facebook goons.

I urge everyone to complain about this and get Facebook’s decision reversed. It’s not going to herd creative people en masse to paying services. It’s simply going to disconnect those people from their supporters, fans, friends and colleagues.

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