Facebook reportedly suspended Isis Anchalee’s account, apparently because of her first name. It remained blocked, even after she sent her passport details to Facebook. “Facebook thinks I’m a terrorist. Apparently sending them a screenshot of my passport is not good enough for them to reopen my account.” Ms Anchalee wrote on Twitter.
Facebook has been operating a “real names policy” for some time which has generated controversies in several communities. In many cases, Facebook has suspended accounts, even though they contained the user’s legal name, just because a moderator found them suspicious. Many people reported that their account was disabled because it contained their initials or their nickname.
Facebook promised to relax the real names policy earlier this year, saying that it would add additional tools to improve the process of verification and checking. However, it looks to be the case after what happened with Ms Anchalee. It was only when she vented her fury on Twitter was her issue was finally resolved. Omid Farivar, a Facebook employee, responded by apologizing for what happened and promising that the issue would be fixed.
Though the issue has been fixed, it does raise doubts how the company operates its policies. Isis Anchalee believes that her name was confused with the extremist group ‘ISIS’. Many people named Isis, which is also the name of an Egyptian Goddess, expressed concerns about the use of the acronym ISIS to refer to Islamic State. An online petition on the issue, calling for media to “stop calling terrorists (ISIS) by our name,” closed on Aug 24 with more than 56,800 signatures.