I mentioned yesterday that we are increasingly becoming a society that lives our lives in public. Social networks like MySpace and Twitter and the ever popular Facebook allow us to connect in quick and simple ways to all our friends (and sometimes not our friends) and find out with nothing more than click of our mouse (no more telephone calls or long, loving, hand-written letters!) and a glance at our computer screen (during work hours, no less) how everyone in our social circle is doing. Or not.
I have actually been a member of Facebook since its inception. This is because the boys who created Facebook were also funded by Draper, Fisher, Jurvetson in their earliest days and so was the company that I was working for at the same time. As such we were all moving in the very same small little circles in Silicon Valley and I signed up more as a favor than for any other reason. I already had my blog and was already part of Linked-In. I really didn't feel I needed to belong to yet another Social Network. However, again, there was the whole DFJ connection and I was being nice.
I signed up as Nakedjen. I made friends and connections as Nakedjen. It follows that I would be Nakedjen on Facebook as I am on every other social networking platform because Nakedjen is my name. It is not because I am a porn star. It is not because I am trying to attract the notice of the porn industry. It is not because I am single and hoping to find a naked boyfriend. No, again, it is simply because my name is and has been for quite some time, Nakedjen.
Last night I received an irate (no honestly it was really irate) phone call from Half Naked Robin asking me why I had deleted her from my friends list on Facebook? She also wanted to know why I had blocked her from even SEEING me on the service? Where had I gone and did I really think this was fair since she is, after all, my very own sister?
I had no idea what she was even talking about. To be honest and truthful, I haven't been an uber user of Facebook. I do use it, but mostly to keep in touch with the myriad of folks from both my present and my past who do like to use all its various fun functions. I am definitely more of a casual user and sign on, at most, about two or three times a week to see what everyone has been doing and to catch up. Not all the folks in my life are avid bloggers (like me) so this is my way to stay in contact. If there's anything of importance, I email or even call to catch up more personally. Yes, I admit it, I'm old school! I know that's all so last century.
I told Half Naked Robin that there was probably just some small glitch in the system and that perhaps the site was down for maintenance and that's why she couldn't find me or access my page. I told her I'd log on and see what was what, but I was certain it was probably just a Mercury Retrograde issue and all would be well.
All was definitely not well.
Facebook obliterated Nakedjen.
Obliterated. Deleted. Made me disappear.
And they did it without any warning or even a simple email telling me that I had done something wrong.
My email to them asking what I might have done to cause such a brutal outcome was just met with an automatic reply telling me that I must be in violation of the TOS and to read it carefully.
Which I did. Every single word. Carefully. There is absolutely no term or stipulation that I even came close to violating other than that my name is Nakedjen. However, as I mentioned, that is MY name. And it has been my name on Facebook since day one. The email that I used for the service is even email@example.com Could I be more clear or obvious? I don't think so.
What I also learned, while reading each and every word carefully, is that my account on Facebook is at will and can be terminated by Facebook at any time for any reason they deem "reasonable." Basically, our accounts are being hosted for free on their servers. So this actually does make sense. If someone in their offices wakes up today and decides that the word Naked is pornographic or even just decides that my photo of Buddha wearing a ski cap is offensive, that person can just hit the delete button and bye bye Nakedjen.
In addition, all content that is published by me (or anyone else) including photos, blog posts, and videos becomes the property of Facebook. You may own it, but so do they because they are now hosting it on their servers and they have claimed rights to it in their TOS.
I have written to the powers that be at Facebook to ask for clarification about the obliteration of Nakedjen from their service. I would like a more concrete answer from them than just READ THE TOS. That is too pat and too easy. I want to know what really happened, what was their issue, who was responsible.
I may never know because the folks at Facebook are not compelled to answer me. However, they may be compelled to answer many of us. So if you'd like to know why Nakedjen was removed from Facebook, I encourage you to write to them and also ask.
This is a lesson in our digital rights and freedoms. I know it may seem like a trivial thing. A Facebook profile being deleted because I call myself Nakedjen. However, if they can obliterate me (and my entire group of friends and family and all my files) just because I have Naked in my name, how long before they obliterate you because your name vaguely sounds Islamic? Or Muslim? Or even just American?
Think about it.
As the conversation about all of this has continued....
Adding this link and this link. The first is Scoble's interview with Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg at Davos this week. The second is a really good article about why we should really "think" about our dependence on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Meanwhile, I want all of you to know that I have heard from Facebook. According to them, my profile was obliterated because I am a PRODUCT and not a real person. Of course no one from Facebook actually checked with me before the obliteration. It had nothing to do with my name being Naked Jen. (A check of the Facebook database will quickly reveal that there are currently over 500 people using NAKED in their name!) They falsely assumed that Naked Jen was a product and belonged in the product pages and not the personal pages. However, we all know, especially those of you reading, that Naked Jen is a person. A real person. My request to reinstate my profile because I am a real person and not a product have fallen on now deaf ears. I am still requesting that my profile be reinstated.
I am Naked Jen. Naked Jen is me. And I assure you, I am not for sale.