Facebook Too Swift To Judge Blogger’s Alter Ego

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"Jon Swift," a political blogger writing under an assumed name, was booted off of Facebook for using a pseudonym. But a little melodrama goes a long way in the blogosphere, far enough to rally a small angry mob outside the walls of Facebook.

Facebook Too Swift to Judge Blogger's Alter Ego

The mob was responding to the "war" Facebook had declared on the blogosphere.

Swift, who according to his stated news preferences fights bias with bias (just a poke, don’t get mad), raised enough Cain to get his profile reinstated. Dig through the charged rhetoric on his Blogspot blog (there’s a lot of poking and bleeding going on) and you find a good point:

Would Bob Dylan be banned if he didn’t sign up as Robert Zimmerman? Would someone searching for their friend Carlos the Jackal have to know that his "real name" is Ilich Ramírez Sánchez? Would Malcolm X have had to sign up under his slave name if he were still alive? Would Eric Arthur Blair have been banned from joining Facebook under the name George Orwell if he weren’t dead, too. Or is Orwell actually alive and well and running Facebook?

But Facebook wouldn’t budge. Jon Swift is not his real name and rules are rules. But then Scoble and others got involved, the term "Orwellian" got thrown around (at ZDNet, no less!), and many pointed out that even Jesus has a dozen or so profiles still active on Facebook.

Jesus Christ, not Jesus Martinez.


Facebook eventually relented. "Upon further review," Facebook decided Swift wasn’t impersonating anyone but himself and enough people on his friends list knew him by this political alter ego to give him his profile back.   

And while you might disagree with Swift’s politics or his melodramatic approach, he does raise important issues. Pseudonyms are an important, often essential, element in free speech, and if you’re going to give a large group of people the platform with which to speak their minds, you probably shouldn’t lord over them to closely, else you find yourself declaring war when you didn’t mean to.

Facebook Too Swift To Judge Blogger’s Alter Ego
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