Juliana Brown Eyes-Clifford was one of the people I wrote about in a feature story this week that outlines the many ways in which Facebook’s “authentic names” policy penalizes people with Native American names. The social network has suspended Natives’ accounts because it deemed their legitimate names as fake. Facebook has also arbitrarily changed Native users’ names. In one case I found that white supremacists triggered the suspension of a high-profile author’s account by reporting her name as fake. They called it “ghost activism.”
The bass guitarist for the rock group Scatter Their Own says she had her name challenged by Facebook about two years ago. To submit her government-issued ID to the social media network for reinstatement Brown Eyes-Clifford had to leave the Pine Ridge Reservation and purchase a printer/scanner. Facebook accepted her ID, but changed her last name. She’s listed as “BrownEyes-Clifford,” not Brown Eyes-Clifford.
On Thursday, just a day after Colorlines published the story that includes Brown Eyes-Clifford, her Facebook account was once again disabled. Here’s a screenshot she provided Thursday from her cell phone:
Brown Eyes-Clifford contacted me, saying, “I feel as if I am being deliberately targeted again because I spoke out against Facebook.” Brown Eyes-Clifford lost access to two pages she administers on Facebook, including the Scatter Their Own fan page. Her husband, Scotti Clifford, is technically an administrator on the page, but he also lost access to it since it was his wife who first created the page. Scatter Their Own is currently touring and is headed to SXSW. Losing access to its Facebook page meant losing access to contacts, dates and confirmations. “Our SXSW tour is about to begin and I handle all our marketing and social media promotion for our band Scatter Their Own,” Brown Eyes-Clifford said on Thursday. “I just don’t know what to do.”
All the communication I’d had with Brown Eyes-Clifford on Facebook was also deleted from my personal message box.
On Thursday Brown Eyes-Clifford stopped what she was doing in the middle of her tour to re-submit her government-issued ID to Facebook. Today at about 11:30 a.m. ET, Brown Eyes-Clifford received a notice that her Facebook account had been reinstated. Her name remains misspelled.
When asked why Brown Eyes-Clifford’s account was suspended, a Facebook spokesperson who had previously talked to me on grounds that we not use their name emailed me today that the company doesn’t comment on individual accounts.