Native Americans rejected from Facebook, ‘odd’ names to blame

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- There's some controversy over Facebook not accepting names from Native Americans.

It's an issue that even sparked online petitions from activists.

Facebook prides themselves on monitoring the profile names of its users, to make sure nothing inappropriate stays online, but what happens when your cultural name is a bit different than the 'typical' and your profile gets deleted?

"If you just look at the name you might think, Her Many Horses, is kind of humorous," said Levi Rickert.

Levi Rickert runs Native News Online, creating a large following connecting the Native American community around the country.

"Social media without any reprisal because of the last name. So, I'm glad that they are looking at this hard and getting passed this hurdle because some of the people are really upset," said Rickert.

Facebook's name policy is easily accessible online. It does mention how professional or religious titles cannot be used on their site, but is it illegal? According to a law expert we spoke to, the answer is no.

"Facebook is not a government agency. It's not run by the government, so Facebook sets its own rules. Which makes it very hard legally to think about bringing a cause of action against Facebook," said attorney Tom Sinas.

Tom Sinas at Sinas Dramis Law Firm, which has litigated civil rights cases in the past, said that  first amendment rights don't always apply to private businesses.

"People have the right to be upset if they don't feel like they are treated fairly by a company, like Facebook. They should voice that concern and with enough of these concerns across the country, it might get the company to change their behavior," said Sinas.

Following petitions online and Tweets, Facebook has responded, and allowing Native American using their native names, back onto its site.

Is the hassle worth it? Using a name that stands out on Facebook, and possibly being rejected from the site? Rickert said that it's about more than just social media, it's about the next generation of Native Americans being proud of their heritage.

"My mother's madden name is White Pigeon. I have an aunt who was never married, and one day she told me that it was kind of hard for her to order pizza because they didn't believe that was her last name, White Pigeons," said Rickert. "I think they are making progress from what I understand and I'm happy that  it makes me more happy that their names will be accepted."

In all fairness, with over a billion users, monitoring new accounts and reviewing names is most likely a heavy task in itself.

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  • TheFoundingFathers

    Trust me, all of you “Native American’s” are better off without Facebook! As a matter of fact the whole world is better off without that social media garbage!

  • Mpilo

    The same thing happened with many of the Drag Queens that were on Facebook. Native American names aren’t “Odd”, nor are they derogatory in any way. Facebook is ridiculous, I have a native name and I used it when I was on Facebook. It feels like a form of profiling quite frankly. So… as Europeans took land and culturally rapped the Native Americans, now Facebook is trying to strip people of their culture as well. It’s disgusting.

  • Mike Raccoon Eyes Kinney

    MIKE RACCOON EYES KINNEY RE: FACEBOOK RACIALLY PROFILING NATIVE AMERICAN LAST NAMES!! Yeah my name is Mike Raccoon Eyes Kinney. I just got racially profiled by Facebook on Feb.25, 2015. My account was deactivated. I am a delegate for the Inter-Tribal Council of California. This racist, colonial social net cancelled my account because they thought my Native name was made up or bogus! They have just declared war on Indian Country! I made several attempts today to call down to Menlo Park, CA. Where their headquarters is based to lodge both protests & complaints about their policies of RACIAL PROFILING OF NATIVE PEOPLES LAST NAMES! However, their corporate office does NOT allow or except phone calls to talk to Facebook staff. I have informed the Inter-Tribal Council of California as their San Francisco Bay Area Delegate of these RACIST, COLONIAL POLICIES THAT FACEBOOK HAS TOWARDS NATIVE PEOPLE BY PROFILING THEM! The next step will be to INFORM FACEBOOK THAT THEY ARE GOING TO BE SUED BY US FOR RACIAL PROFILING! FACEBOOK HAS PROVED THEY ARE NOTHING MORE THAN A RACIST, COLONIAL WHITE OWNED CORPORATION THAT HAS POLICIES THAT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST NATIVE PEOPLE!

  • Mike Raccoon Eyes Kinney
    Facebook Inc. illegally uses Racial Profiling of Native Americans & First Nations of Canada. Facebook shows it’s true colors of being a RACIST, COLONIAL, WHITE PLANTATION CORPORATION OF ILLEGALLY USING RACIAL PROFILING OF NATIVE WHO USE THEIR TRADITIONAL NATIVE LAST NAMES & DELETES THEIR FACEBOOK ACCOUNTS!