Global judgements and ideas.

Mission creep: Facebook invades my privacy

FB requires people to use the name they are called in everyday life for their profiles, but prevents users from defining our own nicknames, profiling, or self-branding.

If FB thinks you are not using the name others call you, Zuckerberg and co will threaten to block you, then block you until you send scanned copies of your ID, which could include a passport, driving license, etc. I know this because it’s happened to me. I am still in dispute as I refuse to email my ID to a social media platform because it is mission creep. FB is not the police, my employer or my banker. I can’t think of many other situations where it is appropriate to give my ID (and even in the listed cases, it’s debatable).

I set up a profile called Quantified Worker about six months ago as part of an experiment in extreme self branding.

My profile was a personal profile rather than a business page because it is intended as an activist comment on work becoming life becoming work. Work/life integration is almost always required in workplaces today and of course quantification is part of that. My research looks into this at length.

I  decided not to use the business profile option, because I want to curate my audience in extreme self branding. My book comes out this year (Quantified Self in Precarity: Work, Techology and What Counts) so it is also part of that.

I could have opted for a ‘closed group’ but given the grey area between the person as separate from brand I’d decided to experiment with, I decided I would curate my audience by only accepting friends I actually know, the message being that I am my work and I am the quantified worker.

This ‘real name’ policy challenges basic civil liberties.

FB’s overly invasive name policy was queried and supposedly relaxed in 2015 when the transgender and drag community protested, but recently there has been a swathe of pushbacks coming from FB to any attempts to use other names due to what one colleague said is a result of recent ‘fake news’ issues, probably code for ‘increasing surveillance is fine now justified by the increase in terrorism’.

Well, this rise in checks also affected me and my account which I called The Quantified Worker. Bear in mind my nickname is Quanty, so for all intents and purposes, this account really is me. It was an experiment in extreme self-branding which should, in consumer capitalism, suit a business model designed to aid people’s self-branding. I did not want to use one of their business pages as I explain below.

One day a few months ago I received an email from FB that read:


We ask everyone on Facebook to use the name they go by in everyday life – what their friends call them. You can keep your current name if it’s the name you’re known by. Otherwise, we’ll ask you to edit it.

We’ll need you to review your name at some point in the next seven days. After this time, you won’t be able to log back in to Facebook until you update your name.

Is Quantified Worker the name you use in everyday life?

View updates from your Support Inbox:

A week later, I received an email from FB requiring me to say what ‘name people call me in everyday life’ and requiring I send copies of my ID. The letter helpfully gave me a list of 15 choices including a passport, driving license, etc. that would be required for me to be enabled to log back in to FB.

In requiring us to reveal our real names, FB is telling consumers that they are the only ones permitted to profile us and permitted to make a profit from our digital labour… not to mention giving this information to the government/employers/police if and when requested. Nice one, Zuckster!

I have not sent my ID to FB and so have not logged back on and I don’t plan to. I really think a mass exodus from Facebook would be a good idea.

I wrote the following message to the Assocation of Internet Researchers recently after someone sent a message to that group asking about Facebook’s real name/privacy policy.

My message to AoIR:
There were protests a couple of years ago emerging from the drag community, Native Americans, and trans people around the ‘real name’ policy and allegedly FB loosened its policy at that time.


However, FB is recently tightening the policy again as I have discovered after personal experience I outline below and in discussions that emerged when I resolved not to return to FB because I don’t agree that I should be forced to scan my ID to a social networking platform in order to use it (which is what FB requires of me now to log back in to my account).

In fact, the policy is that one has to be called the name used for a FB profile rather than one’s legal name. So, why is FB requiring people to send evidence of real names?! This is an extremely dangerous terrain.

This mission creep is very worrying and one that civil liberties/surveillance specialists have warned we should cautious about for many years, and frankly, Big Brother is here.



Also see this recent story about a law suit challenging Facebook’s photo tagging:

SAN FRANCISCO — A San Francisco federal judge rejected Facebook’s request to toss a lawsuit alleging its photo-tagging feature that uses facial recognition technology invades users’ privacy.

U.S. District Judge James Donato allowed the case to move forward against Facebook under an Illinois law that bans collecting and storing biometric data without explicit consent.

“The Court accepts as true plaintiffs’ allegations that Facebook’s face recognition technology involves a scan of face geometry that was done without plaintiffs’ consent,” Donato wrote in Thursday’s ruling.

Also see:

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This entry was posted on May 18, 2017 by .
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