No Irish Need Apply

#MyNameIs And #NINA As Facebook Claims Irish Names Are Not Real Names

Bua nó Bás? Bíodh misneach againn!

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!

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19 comments

  1. No one has asked me to change my name to its English equivalent. (That would be “John”)

    Those people can either get a passport with a name they want or they can use a different website that accepts made up names.
    What’s the problem?
    And facebook supports nicknames and language-specific names as well – they can use those.

  2. Also I wonder how those people book flights, order stuff online and do other things where identification is required…

    I’m pretty sure they can forbid you from boarding a plane if the name on your boarding pass doesn’t match the one in your passport.

    1. Facebook is a social network, not a government authority. Why should you be required to give a provable legal name to connect with friends?

  3. My Facebook account was suspended for using the Scottish version of my name and I managed to get them to reactivate it by sending a photo of my Drivers Licence (With my English name) next to a letter addressed to my Scottish name. (at the same address)

    That means you don’t need “official” evidence of it being your ‘real name’, just something somewhere other than Facebook where you use it. (I just use my Scottish name when ordering Gaidhlig books online for instance.)

    1. No – they just want your FB account name to match the one that’s on your government issued ID documents.

      1. no they don’t. All you need for a Facebook account is an e-mail address. There must be a very specific reason why some Irish name are not being accepted. Any entity can sign up for an e-mail account, many people with Irish names have Facebook accounts. Facebook does not require any official documentation. Frankly there must be some element of this story that is missing. You see obviously made up names every day.

        1. Yeah – an ID is not necessary to register an account. But they can ask for it if they suspect that your account has a fake name.
          https://www.facebook.com/help/159096464162185

          And they’ll suspend your account if you don’t provide the ID. (That can be a problem if there’s no Irish version of a person’s name on any of their IDs)

          Anyway – Latvian names can be just as “weird” as Irish names and I have never heard of any Latvian whose account was suspended because facebook thought that their name is fake.

          1. I was thinking of Hungarian names, as an example of weirdness, all those double-accutes, odd letter combinations, and putting the surname first. But that’s nothing compared to names from for example the South of India and who knows where else? So conspiracy or cock-up, which do you think it is?

        1. Irish law doesn’t apply worldwide and foreigners don’t know how to translate those names.
          That’s why it’s better to use the same name that’s in your passport to avoid unnecessary problems.

          1. Why does it matter what foreigners can translate? Presumably their friends should know them well enough to know what name they go by.

          2. presumably the foreigners would know the person with the irish name if they were trying to connect with them on a social networking site so translation is neither here nor there. i find it quite sinister that facebook are demanding this, or that someone is demanding it and facebook are complying. anyway, why do you care Janis? as you said, it doesn’t affect you

          3. Ahh Janice – everybodys favourite resident Latvian on Patroll – I dunno what we’d ever do without you.

          4. I really don’t care whether foreigners can translate my name or not. Irish law gives me the right to use it whenever I want. What have Facebook, which is not a government body, to do with what is on my passport – which, by the way, I can have in Irish or English as is my right as an Irish citizen?

  4. In case you are free Sunday, 9/13, at 2 pm at The Teachers’ Club I will attend the Dublin launch of my book, “Ireland 1845-1850: the Prrfect Holocaust, and Who Kept it ‘Perfect.'”

    I would like to meet An Sionnach Fionn. Chris Fogarty

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  5. Facebook sells you, that’s why they demand your real name, DoB, email address and government ID. You are the sheep that’s being sheared.

    1. Of course they do – why else would they invest billions of $ and countless man-hours in their infrastructure?
      If you don’t like their real-name policy you’re free to use another social network.

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