Over the last several months a number of people from Ireland and the Irish diaspora have been barred from the American social networking platform, Facebook, because it refuses to recognise the legitimacy (or existence?) of names in the Irish language. Yes, I know, it sounds bizarre, particularly as Facebook’s European HQ is based in Dublin, but in several recent cases the company’s online administrators have insisted that some indigenous Irish names are not real names, and demanded that their holders anglicise or “translate” their names into ersatz English forms. From a report by the Irish Times:
“Facebook users who choose to use their Irish language names on the social networking site are to hold a protest next month at the company’s Dublin headquarters over its contentious user identification policy.
The so-called ‘real-name’ policy requires users to prove their identity using either one form of official Government identification such as a birth certificate, a driver’s licence or else two matching non-government forms of identification.
A spokesperson for Misneach, the Irish-language activist group behind the protest, said the policy affects many of those who choose to use their names in Irish later in life but who do not have official documentation to prove the authenticity of their names.
Irish news website tuairisc.ie reported in July that Laoiseach Ní Choisdealbha, an Irish language officer at NUI Galway, had her account suspended by the company over the use of her name in Irish.
The account was subsequently restored but only under the English language version of Ms Ní Choisdealbha’s name.
The ‘real-name’ policy has been opposed in the US and elsewhere by a coalition of LGBTQ people, Native Americans and survivors of domestic violence.
The #MyNameIs campaign has been advocating for the reform of the policy.
The protest takes place at 2pm on October 7th at the company’s Grand Canal HQ.”
This frankly ridiculous form of linguistic colonialism has also effected Scottish-speaking Facebook users in Scotland. The protest in October is being organised by Misneach, an Irish rights grouping, which you can see more of in the video below. They can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or via their blog. Twitter user Misneach Nua Eabhrac has also done an excellent job of keeping others informed of the twists and turns in this issue. I will update ASF with news on the demonstration nearer the time. Beir bua!