Last year, a romance author lost all her Facebook access because she had created a profile for her pen name. She lost everything and ended up in a frustrating and well-documented battle with Facebook to get her true personal profile restored. She had violated one of Facebook’s sacred rules of only operating with one personal profile and only using her “real name.”
Authors, artists, musicians, and other creative professionals are in a unique position. They are solo brands that often do not include their real given name. There are a number of reasons celebrities need privacy online while trying to maintain a public presence. Facebook would be wise to help people with pen names, stage names, and screen names find a safe way to interact in and form Facebook groups and personal profiles without having to use their real names.
Currently, an author with a pen name may use that name to set up their Facebook page and can post and comment on that page as their pen name. However, groups have to be connected to a personal profile. Business pages may not set up a different profile to start a group. If they want to start a group or post in a group, it has to be under that original personal profile.
At this time it doesn’t look like brands are going to get the option of setting up Facebook groups on their own. One indicator of that conclusion is that Facebook is currently testing ads in groups, which may become the portal for a brand to gain a presence in a public or closed group.
Lest you think I’m one of those people that just looks at the problem and doesn’t have any suggestions for a solution, I’ve come up with an easy solution for Facebook. Do you think they will listen?
Vet The Candidates
Facebook already does a fair amount of vetting on their platform. I imagine spotting trouble is algorithm-based, flagged, and then lands on the computer of some Facebook employee who tries to run down the problem. I know of of many authors who have been asked to produce documentation that they are who they say they are on Facebook, so the initial system is already in place. It should be fairly simple to install an application process for people to apply for a secret profile.
Make the Application Stringent
I’m not asking Facebook to open up the gates and let in anyone who claims to be a celebrity. Let’s look at some options that might work. An application could include the following requirements:
- Only people with a personal profile and a business page in the category of Artist, Band, or Public Figure would be eligible.
- Applicants should be required to produce proof that:
- They are who they say they are documented with the proper paperwork, drivers license, passport, whatever.
- Have a viable Facebook business page under their secret profile name or have the public follow option on their secret profile turned on.
- Produce proof that they are producing or creating viable products under their secret profile name. This could be easily done with links to Amazon, etc. Facebook can easily weed out imposters by requiring copyright or other paperwork if necessary.
- Require the person to have a viable website under the secret profile name where said products are also listed for sale.
- Use the same email address as their true personal profile for verification purposes.
- Limit the number of Facebook groups that secret profiles can form.
Now this is just a short list. I am sure others could add to it and refine it. The point is, Facebook needs to provide a way for celebrities of all denominations, whether musicians, writers, or actors to be able to safely form and interact in closed or secret Facebook groups with their celebrity names.
Protecting privacy and shielding families from harassment should be more important to Facebook than limiting celebrities to a personal profile. Having the freedom to use the Facebook groups option is an important piece for celebrities trying to form insider fan groups.
I know that one lowly blog post probably won’t make Facebook blink, but one can dream.