An increasingly vocal group of Native American Facebook users have expressed displeasure with the site for the past several weeks over its “real name” policy. That rule, which requires users to identify by their given birth names, has resulted in some Native Americans being booted from the social media network because of their unusual names. However, the issue escalated to the next level this week when one outspoken user, Dana Lone Hill, decided to file a class action lawsuit against the site.
Lone Hill is one of many users to report being kicked off Facebook, and she says that it took her case being covered by national news outlets for Facebook to respond and restore her page. Lone Hill was careful to say that she doesn’t necessarily blame Facebook’s policy on racism, and thinks that the problem may stem from the fact that Native American names mix adjectives and nouns. Still, many in the Native American community are angry and looking to push for a change.
“As unintentional as this whole name policy may be, it really fits into this larger narrative of the erasure of Native Americans from North and Central America,” said Shane Creepingbear, a Native American who had his profile removed from the site. “It mirrors what society as a whole deems as a ‘normal name.’ I don’t want that part of the story to get lost.”
Facebook dealt with a similar problem earlier this year with members of the drag queen community in San Francisco. Though they aren’t involved with Lone Hill’s lawsuit, representatives from that coalition say they’ve been in touch with her.