Salman Rushdie is having problems getting people to believe that his Internet self is the same as his human self. When Rushdie joined Twitter a few months ago, the Twitteverse questioned the man behind the @salmanrushdie1 handle. But eventually Rushdie had his account verified by Twitter and got an impostor to hand the over more legitimate @SalmanRushdie account. One social network down, and now another one to go: The world-famous writer is now dealing with Facebook on separate identification issues.
It only took an hour of Twitter complaining, but Facebook has given Rushdie back his proper Facebook identity. Similar to Rushdie's Twitter woes, Rushdie had problems getting people to believe he was the man behind the Salman Rushdie Facebook page. Facebook deactivated the profile until Rushdie proved his identity. After Rushdie handed over his passport, Facebook allowed Rushdie to continue his regular Facebook activities. But in a twist of irony, the social network now won't let him use his name, instead changing the account to reflect the name that appears first on his passport, Ahmed. Rushdie took to Twitter to complain, baiting Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg to fix things, again, ironically tweeting at a faux Mark Zuckerberg twitter account. "NOW... They have reactivated my FB page as 'Ahmed Rushdie,'in spite of the world knowing me as Salman. Morons. @MarkZuckerbergF? Are you listening?," Rushdie tweeted.
The whole thing emphasizes the catch-22 of Internet identity. As Rushdie experienced, social networks make impersonation an easy art. And Facebook's strict rules are in his best interest. But at times, these social networks take these policies to a ridiculous level, as Rushdie points out. "Dear #Facebook, forcing me to change my FB name from Salman to Ahmed Rushdie is like forcing J. Edgar to become John Hoover."
Update 3:45: Facebook apologizes to Rushdie for the ordeal in a official statement. "This action was taken in error, and Mr. Rushdie's account has been reactivated with the correct name. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.