The Facebook “real-name” Nazis are at it again, and this time they’re denying a punk legend with arguably one of the coolest monikers in music — Cheetah Chrome — his well-known handle. The Dead Boys guitarist's extensive Cheetah Chrome page on Wikipedia cites his seminal work with the Hilly Kristal–managed, CBGB’s-bred band, as well as his collabs with members of the New York Dolls, The Stooges and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, to name a few.
But in June, Chrome tells us, Facebook shut down his page, saying his longtime moniker didn't “meet their requirements” for an FB name.
“I had an email exchange with them, and was told I had to show an ID and use my real name," Chrome says. "So, figuring I could sort it later, I sent them a pic of my license and got back on. Since then I have had several email exchanges with Facebook, which have gone full circle. It was so ridiculous. I emailed back with links to my Wiki page, my Amazon page, my record label page — then never heard back.”
Adding fuel to Chrome’s fire: Another “Cheetah Chrome” is currently being allowed to use the name on Facebook, a young girl in Metz, France.
“So I report [her], and have a bunch of friends report [her],” he tells L.A. Weekly. “I get a response from Facebook saying the name meets their standards [for her], and they're not taking any action!” (Chrome later posted an update explaining that the French girl is a fan of his, and has agreed to change her name on her FB profile.)
Chrome also points out that Facebook auto-generated a Cheetah Chrome page for him, complete with photos, not too long ago. These pages, which often link to Wiki, are created for celebrities and well-known locales that get mentioned on the site but don’t have a page.
The guy who wrote “Sonic Reducer” does have a fan page in addition to the personal one he’s fighting for, but there is no reason he shouldn’t be able to have both. So say his legion of friends and fans, many of whom have mobilized — and have created a FB page to help Chrome’s cause, the Facebook Public Group called GIVE CHEETAH CHROME BACK HIS NAME.
Of course, Chrome isn’t the first public figure to run into problems with Facebook’s name policy.
Last year, the situation came to a boil when it seemed the social media site was targeting drag and trans performers, as well as rockers, for what they called themselves. Read our report about that at "Musicians Fight Back Against Facebook's Real-Name Policy."
In the wake of the name controversy the #MyNameIs campaign was created by users whose FB accounts had been shut down. In addition to entertainers, they included Native Americans using tribal names and survivors of domestic violence who feared being tracked by their abusers. Some of them participated in a protest at Facebook headquarters. In response, Facebook allowed many of them to use their chosen names.
But many were not permitted to continue using their names.
The frustration with Facebook’s name policy and privacy concerns prompted people to look for an alternative social network. ELLO capitalized on the ill will toward Zuckerberg and company. But a year later, it’s clear the protesters couldn’t sustain things — the mass exodus many predicted did not happen, even though Facebook hasn’t solved the problem yet.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Facebook officials publicly addressed the issue in an open letter to Buzzfeed, saying that changes were coming.
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“We want to reduce the number of people who are asked to verify their name on Facebook, when they are already using the name people know them by,” wrote Facebook vice president of growth Alex Schultz. “We want to make it easier for people to confirm their name if necessary,” he added.
The letter promised reforms beginning in December.
But that may not be soon enough for Chrome, currently using the un-punk "Eugene Richard O’Connor" for his profile. He says he's become more and more frustrated with the site’s nonsensical, seemingly automated responses.
“I am about to give up and close down my page,” he says. Here’s hoping Facebook addresses his concerns before the Dead Boy kills his presence on the site.