Monday, October 20, 2014

Fake names on Face-Book and Amazon
By: Joe P. Attanasio

I considered writing under a pen name and publishing some erotic-romance stories. These tend to be short and easy to write and sell quite well in the marketplace. I have a number of stories already written that could easily be converted. I would not want to use my given name, as it is associated with an entirely different genre, and these stories could affect my reputation.

I decided to scrap the idea as the perils far outweigh the benefits. However, I found the topic of using a pseudonym or pen name in both Facebook and Amazon an interesting subject open for debate on many levels.

I want to make clear that while I consider using a pseudonym or pen name for the above reasons I frown on the idea of using one for the purpose of cross promoting your work or for "trolling" and “defaming” people which is very rude.

With Amazon you have to use your real information Name, Address, Bank Account, Social Security Number etc. for legal and tax reporting reason because of the royalties for selling books. Amazon will allow you to use up to three pen names on the books you publish. Although law enforcement is privy to that information, no one else needs to know that the pen name is also you.

Facebook however, has its own policy as stated below.


Here is Facebook’s policy regarding the use of names:

Facebook is a community where people use their authentic identities. We require people to provide the name they use in real life; that way, you always know who you're connecting with. This helps keep our community safe.

You may be having trouble changing your name if:

Your name doesn't follow our name policy
You changed your name in the last 60 days
You were previously asked to verify your name on Facebook
You can also add an alternate name (ex: maiden name, nickname) to your profile. If your first and last name isn’t listed on your account and you’re unable to change it, let us know.

What names are allowed on Facebook?

Facebook is a community where people use their authentic identities. We require people to provide the name they use in real life; that way, you always know who you're connecting with. This helps keep our community safe.

Please refrain from adding any of these to your name:

Symbols, numbers, unusual capitalization, repeating characters or punctuation.
Characters from multiple languages.
Titles of any kind (ex: professional, religious).
Words, phrases or nicknames in place of a middle name.
Offensive or suggestive words of any kind.
Other things to keep in mind:

The name you use should be your authentic identity; as your friends call you in real life and as our acceptable identification forms would show.
Nicknames can be used as a first or middle name if they're a variation of your authentic name (like Bob instead of Robert).
You can also list another name on your account (ex: maiden name, nickname, professional name) by adding an alternate name to your profile.
Profiles are for individual use only. We offer Pages for professional personas, organizations and businesses.
Pretending to be anything or anyone isn't allowed.
If your authentic name isn’t listed on your account, please change your name. If you're unable to change it, learn more.

What types of ID does Facebook accept?

You can confirm your identity in 1 of 3 ways. When submitting documentation, please cover up any personal information we don't need to verify your identity (ex: credit card number, Social Security number). We encrypt people’s connections to Facebook by default, including IDs you send to us. We delete your ID information after verification is complete.

Option 1

We will accept any government-issued ID that contains your name and date of birth. Examples include:

Birth certificate
Driver’s license
Marriage certificate
Official name change paperwork
Personal or vehicle insurance card
Non-driver's government ID (ex: disability, SNAP card, national ID card)
Green card, residence permit or immigration papers
Voter ID card
Option 2

You can provide two different forms of ID from the following list (ex: a bank statement and a library card, but not two bank statements). The names on your IDs must match each other, and one of the IDs must include a photo or date of birth that matches the information on your profile.

Below are some examples of IDs we'll accept:

Bank statement
Bus card
Credit card
Employment verification
Library card
Magazine subscription stub
Medical record
Membership ID (ex: pension card, union membership, work ID, professional ID)
Paycheck stub
School card
School record
Social Security card
Utility bill
Yearbook photo (actual scan or photograph of the page in your yearbook)
Option 3

If you don’t have an ID that shows your authentic name as well as your photo or date of birth, you can provide two forms of ID from Option 2 above, and then provide a government ID that includes a date of birth or photo that matches the information on your profile. We won't add the name or other information from the government ID to your account.

Why Facebook wants your name

Facebook estimates that nearly 83 million registered users are actually duplicated accounts, spammers, or non-people, like that profile you made for your puppy. That's a staggering number, and Facebook has acknowledged such "inauthentic" accounts as a potential threat to its brand and business. Facebook has also made its effort to crack down on nicknames and pseudonyms pretty public, allowing users to display "alternate" names only in parentheses.

There is no estimate for people who go by a realistic fake name, although the phenomenon could potentially pose trouble for the social network that wants to own your real identity on the web.

Facebook depends on its users to be honest. With 239,000 users for every Facebook employee, it's logistically impossible to verify all the information that is submitted. Fake names, fake ages, fake interests — all these inaccuracies interfere with the company's ability to accurately target advertisements. Facebook wants to build the world's most comprehensive database of people. If the information is current and correct, Facebook could eventually become a place where people bank or vote or even file taxes. If it's filled with errors, it nears uselessness — at least, as far as advertisers are concerned.

Real names are key to keeping the integrity of that database. By forcing people to use their real names, Facebook pressures users to mirror their offline identities. That’s why Facebook, now a public company, has made enforcing its real-names policy a top priority. Employees and automated systems trawl the site for fakers, sometimes sweeping up genuine users including Pulitzer Prize-winning author Salman Rushdie by accident.


"Facebook is a community where people use their real identities. When everyone uses their real first and last names, people can know who they're connecting with. This helps keep our community safe," a Facebook spokesperson said in an email. "It’s a violation of our policies to use a fake name or operate under a false identity, and we encourage people to report anyone they think is doing this."

Facebook has a dedicated investigations team that reviews user-reported aliases, and the company has also built and is constantly working on "complex technical systems that flag potential fake accounts for review," the Facebook spokesperson said. As a last resort, Facebook asks users to submit a form of government-issued identification.
So obviously, making a Facebook page under your pen name is risky and could get both of your accounts banned.


Fake names on Amazon contributed to this article below that was in the Huffington Post.

Below this dead link is the article from the Huffington Post:

Article here:

Bestselling, award-winning crime author R.J. Ellory has been caught faking Amazon reviews for both his own books and the books of his competitors.

Ellory was caught writing the fake Amazon reviews by fellow author Jeremy Duns, according to ABC News. Such an act is dubbed "sock-puppeting," or writing anonymous online reviews praising one's own work.

Gawker posted the complete Twitter thread written by Duns, via Storify, in which the author describes the posts Ellory wrote about his own works.

"Ellory writes 5-star reviews of his own work on Amazon. Long, purple tributes to his own magnificent genius," Duns tweeted. "RJ Ellory also writes shoddy, sh----y sniping reviews of others authors' work on Amazon, under an assumed identity."

Adding, "Prasing [sic] yourself is pathetic. Attacking other writers like this? I have no time for it, and have no time for anyone who defends it."

Ellory posted one of the fake Amazon reviews under the pseudonym "Nicodemus Jones," writing: "I don't need to really say anything about the plot of this book. All I will say is that there are paragraphs and chapters that just stopped me dead in my tracks. Some of it was chilling, some of it raced along, some of it was poetic and langorous and had to be read twice and three times to really appreciate the depth of the really is a magnificent book. Ignore all dissentors and naysayers, this book is not trying to be anything other than a great story, brilliantly told. Just buy it, read it, and make up your own mind. Whatever else it might do, it will touch your soul."

"Nicodemus Jones" also wrote a negative review about Stuart MacBride's "Dark Blood." It was in this review that Duns caught onto Ellory's fraudulent reviews. He noticed that one particular Nicodemus Jones thread had postings by user "RJ Ellory," according to the Guardian.

Ellory issued a statement to the Guardian, offering his apologies for sock-puppeting.

"The recent reviews – both positive and negative – that have been posted on my Amazon accounts are my responsibility and my responsibility alone. I wholeheartedly regret the lapse of judgment that allowed personal opinions to be disseminated in this way and I would like to [apologize] to my readers and the writing community."

Ellory, who won the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award in 2010 for "A Simple Act of Violence," is not the only author guilty of writing fake reviews.

Orlando Figes, a leading historian, admitted to writing anonymous Amazon reviews celebrating his own work and condemning the work of his competitors in 2010, according the BBC. He was sued by two historians and ordered to pay damages.

One of the United Kingdom's most successful thriller writers, Stephen Leather, also admitted to sock-puppeting and claimed the practice is commonplace.

“I’ll go on to several forums … and post there, under my own name and under various other names and various other characters," Leather disclosed at the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, according to the Telelgraph. "You build this whole network of characters who talk about your books and sometimes have conversations with yourself … I have friends who are sockpuppets … One person on their own, difficult to create a buzz. If you’ve got ten friends, and they’ve got friends, and you can get them all as one creating a buzz, then hopefully you’ll be all right."

John Locke, a successful self-publisher and author of "How I Sold One Million E-Books In Five Months," admitted to buying five-star reviews to boost his Amazon visibility, The New York Times reports.

Sam Millar was accused of the act earlier this year. Science fiction and fantasy authors also found that frustrated writer Robert Stanek was sock-puppeting in 2009.

The Telegraph's Jake Kerridge questioned if the Ellory scandal is just the tip of the iceberg.

"Already other publishing practices are coming under scrutiny. Do too many crime writers provide quotes for the jackets of their friends’ books?" he asked, adding, "Most of the crime writers I know are genial, friendly souls (Ellory has long been regarded by many in the community as atypically self-aggrandising and chippy), so perhaps not. But since Amazon is unlikely to discontinue its practice of allowing pseudonymous reviews, the industry needs to get to work on regaining readers’ trust."

Authors have already publicly condemned Ellory for abusing online anonymity by "misusing these channels in ways that are fraudulent and damaging to publishing at large." Notable authors who have signed the petition against sock-puppeting include Karin Slaughter, Ian Rankin, Jo Nesbo and Val McDermid.


I hope you found this interesting and feel free to visit my other blogs as listed in my archives.

No comments:

Post a Comment