Chinese blogger and activist Michael Anti wants to know why he is less worthy of a Facebook account than company founder Mark Zuckerberg's dog.
Anti, a popular online commentator whose legal name is Zhao Jing, said in an interview Tuesday that his Facebook account was suddenly canceled in January. Company officials told him by e-mail that Facebook has a strict policy against pseudonyms and that he must use the name issued on his government ID.
Anti argues that his professional identity as Michael Anti has been established for more than a decade, with published articles and essays.
Anti, a former journalist who has won fellowships at both Cambridge University and Harvard University, said he set up his Facebook account in 2007. By locking him out of his account, Facebook has cut him off from a network of more than 1,000 academic and professional contacts who know him as Anti, he said.
"I'm really, really angry. I can't function using my Chinese name. Today, I found out that Zuckerberg's dog has a Facebook account. My journalistic work and academic work is more real than a dog," he said.
Ostensibly, the "real name" policy was created during Facebook's early days in order to provide reliability and trust on the website. That was back when Facebook actually followed privacy guidelines. Now that Facebook has made public release of profile pictures, friend lists, etc mandatory and is unloading a slew of private information- including phone numbers and addresses- to outside developers, one can question why Facebook should be trusted with anyone's real name. But that's a bit beside the point here.
With the case of Michael Anti, we see someone who was using his actual name... at least as far as the name he uses in professional circles. Is Facebook going to say that Bob Dylan must go by Robert Zimmerman? As a writer in China, Anti already has more than enough trouble dealing with censorship authorities here. Facebook should be deeply ashamed.
Some might say its a bit much to describe this as censorship as I have done in the headline. I say censorship is a small word for it. What greater censorship can be done than the delete a person's entire account? Their messages, their contacts, their personal photos, their online identiy.
This isn't the first time Anti lost a blog hosted by a U.S. company. Acting at the behest of the Chinese government, Microsoftshut down Anti's MSN Spages page in 2005.
Not to mention that there are a few good reasons why a human rights activist in places like China or Iran may not want to be posting on Facebook under their real name.
I attended a couple Carnaval parties at Latina and Bar Rouge last night and will post photos sometime in the next day or two. To tide you over in the meantime, here are a few views from the samba dancers and band at the Latina Carnaval party in Shanghai, China in 2009.
As a past (and possibly future) Shanghai party photographer, I thoroughly enjoyed Patrick Maxwell's recent column in Time Out, derisive as it is toward the genre. Time Out Shanghai (English edition) doesn't seem to have found it's way to the world wide web yet, so you'll have to find your way to a coffeeshop to see the article or make do with this pull-quote:
... Cedric M will always be the godfather of party porn for me, and though he's been replaced by the infuriating Touchmedia in cabs, his legacy lives on in just about every expat magazine and website in town (including City Moments, that Bible of the genre), where every month thousands of Photoshop-flawless girls give us 'V' signs (happy) and pout (sexy), and men do that 'I'm-shouting-cos-I'm-having-so-much-fun' thing (awkward). On roughly every other party photo spread, you'll see that cloyingly handsome French guy from Riviera Events, often with his pecs out.
Of course, like most of us, I never just turn over the page or click away, and like most of us I feel a bit dirty afterwards. There's just something quite wrong about staying in on a Saturday night and then spending Sunday poring over the pictures of people in Bondage at a Pervert party, judgmental, transfixed and safe in that knowledge that no one can see what you're looking at. It's 'people watching' (also known as perving) for cowards...