- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
Michael Anti, the Chinese journalist and political blogger, had his Facebook account suspended in January because, as representatives of the company told him, "Facebook has a strict policy against pseudonyms and that he must use the name issued on his government ID." So Anti was more than a little miffed to learn that Beast — the Hungarian sheepdog puppy just purchased by Mark Zuckerberg and his girlfriend — now has his own profile:
Anti, a former journalist who has won fellowships at both Cambridge University and Harvard University, said he set up his Facebook account in 2007. By locking him out of his account, Facebook has cut him off from a network of more than 1,000 academic and professional contacts who know him as Anti, he said.
"I’m really, really angry. I can’t function using my Chinese name. Today, I found out that Zuckerberg’s dog has a Facebook account. My journalistic work and academic work is more real than a dog," he said.
Zuckerberg recently set up a Facebook page for "Beast," complete with photos and a profile. Unlike Anti’s, however, the page for the puppy doesn’t violate Facebook’s policies because it’s not meant to be a personal profile page. Rather, it’s a type of page reserved for businesses and public figures that fans can "like" and receive updates from on their own Facebook pages.
Facebook said it does not comment on individual accounts, but added that it believes a "real name culture" leads to more accountability and a safer and more trusted environment for people who use Facebook.
Cute puppies aside, Facebook’s explanation seems bogus. In just my list of Facebook friends I can find at least a dozen people using pseudonyms, nicknames, or variations on their names. Moreover, Anti is a relatively well known public figure under that name. He’s been writing articles under that name for years and his Twitter account has nearly 36,000 followers.
The timing of Anti’s suspension, coming just a month after Zuckerberg’s "vacation" tour of Chinese Internet companies, is equally unfortunate.
Hat tip: China Digital Times