Authors Beware: Facebook Doesn’t Allow Pen Names

Hello SErs! Harmony here. Happy Monday! Today, I am posting about a serious issue that I have experienced recently. Some of you might have noticed that I no longer have any presence on Facebook. That little corner of social media that I spent 4 to 5 years building up. At the last count, I had over 800 followers. That took some doing. And, now … nothing.

Why is that?

Let me explain. I got hacked. So, the first thing I did was to change my password and set up two-factor authentication. All well and good. Then problems hit. Facebook’s two factor broke. It just wouldn’t send me the access codes to my mobile via text SMS. So, in the end, I had to use one of their hundreds of contact forms to ask for help. It took from early Sunday morning to late Monday night to finally get a response and access to my account. And to do that, I had to upload a copy of my passport photo.

All good again? Not quite.

I accessed my account and posted, etc., on Tuesday morning. When I then tried to log in again in the afternoon, this is what I was presented with:

In some perplexity, I followed their FAQ link. This led me — after a long time of searching — to the following:

The URL for this is HERE.

More searching led me to this page:

The URL for this is HERE.

Only then did I realise that I had inadvertently been in violation of Facebook’s name policy. Because I had used an author Pen Name … a pseudonym. I had seen nothing of this when I originally set up my author account as a brand new writer all those years ago.

To date, I have never had a single response from Facebook.

I am locked out for good. Just like that.

They disabled my account without even giving me the chance to change my profile name, had I wanted to. As I mentioned, until all this happened, I had been unaware of the Real Name Policy.

Unless you register a business account, you cannot use anything other than your real name. They will allow you to post an alternate name so long as your profile and every page shows your real name first and foremost and prominently.

I had a business page, my ‘Harmony Kent Author Page’. Unfortunately, this was linked to my personal page (one we all have to set up to open an account on Facebook), which was in the name of Harmony Kent. Not my real name. It seems to go in a circle, as any business page, with a business name, has to also have a personal page with someone’s actual real name on it. Below is a screenshot of a forum explaining all this …

The URL for this page is HERE.

I know a LOT of authors who use pen names on Facebook.

Controversy rages about Facebook’s Real Name Policy. Wikipedia has an interesting article on this subject, which you can find HERE. Had I used my real first name, which is Japanese — even though I’m as English as they come — I would have, no doubt, fallen foul of this policy, as many websites do not recognise my first name as an actual real name. Seriously, I have been prevented from shopping on some sites due to this issue. This leaves me certain that Facebook would have flagged my real name as a fake name.

Ironic much?

Other areas affected by this policy would be such things as search engines and your SEO optimisation. You wouldn’t be able to have the same author branding right accross the board, as I did, because Facebook wouldn’t show you as you in your author name guise. It would only flag up your real name. For me, I never wanted to be all over the internet as me personally. I wanted some level of protection … the web has some strange folks on it, sadly. I will say here that had Facebook given me the option to change my profile, instead of just disabling the account and ignoring me, I most likely wouldn’t have wanted my real name on there anyway.

My thoughts on this are that if they truly want to safeguard the community, they should be asking for proof of ID at the point someone tries to set up an account. Not penalise them after years because they’ve only just had to show their ID to recover their account. To me, this seems backwards way on.

What do you think? I’d love you all to weigh in on this one. Were you aware of this rule?

Harmony Kent

72 thoughts on “Authors Beware: Facebook Doesn’t Allow Pen Names

  1. I ran into this with one of my pen names
    I have my personal account ( with business page which i publish books and interact with readers)
    Then i created another personal account for my pen name and a business page for that.
    At some point I forgot my pass and then i got into a cycle of where they asked me to upload passport but that was for my original name
    Anyway, I want to interact with readers and groups under my pen name but I can’t do that without a personal account for that pen name and I cant do that because FB wants me to only have 1 personal account (my real name ) I don’t want that name out there or have readers think I am another person. URGH! Hate facebook 😉
    Anyway I can post to my 2 business pages as before FB nixed me. I was able to assign myself as ADMIN for my pen name business page. However that doesn’t allow me to join group as my pen name page.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It annoys the heck out of me. If they’re that bothered about our ID, they need to request it as soon as someone tries to sign up, not years down the line. I feel your frustration. Thanks for stopping by, Warren 🙂


  2. I hit the same issue last week – I am preparing to publish my first book via smashwords and I thought I needed a FB presence. Due to my work, I pretty much need a pen name. They required SMS and after they matched the phone number to an existing FB account (that I never use), the account was crushed at creation time.

    FB is a toxic wasteland full of bots, trolls, hate and and anger.

    I’m thinking that Smashwords and Amazon profiles along with personal blogs are probably better for us as writers, anyway. I’m not convinced that anyone on FB actually reads anything longer than 20 words anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Authors Beware: Facebook Doesn’t Allow Pen Names – From The Story Empire Blog | Author Don Massenzio

  4. Facebook is something I am slowly weaning away from, though it’s hard as I am members of writing, reading, craft groups and have my crochet page. But I really do think they have so many ridiculous rules, yet still allow obscene videos to be shared as they don’t violate the terms? But something like this you can’t access your account, I am sorry this happened to you!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Harms! You won’t find Stephen Geez on Facebook. That writer feller was on there for a while, invested time and effort into building a following, joined reader/writer groups, and more. Then one day–gone. Sorry, think maybe not a real name, upload proof. Yes, I read the rules when I set it up, and I knew it was technically a violation, but one I know scores of authors (and some actors) do. I never liked Facebook, and now I despise it. Oh well. Fresh Ink Group has a page, but it was a page of our business manager, and she died last year, so we had to start over with a new company page on another person’s account. Malarkey is the nicest word I can think of for this. They could offer protections and still have a way to use pen-names. Thanks for sharing this. I hate to see authors invest so much into building a presence only to have what happened to me ruin it for them.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The most sensible and effective approach would be to prove your ID on account set up, and then be allowed to use a pen name on your public pages. When I read the rule about business pages, I did wonder about employees either leaving or dying. It all seems a convoluted mess to me. I’m so sorry you’ve gone through the same thing, Stephen! Here’s to being Facebook free! 🙂


      • Yeah, FB-free! Still, another thing to consider is that FB doesn’t even let non-registrants participate in anything. Mostly I’m glad I don’t spend time there, but sometimes I’m invited to an event, a club project, to look at people’s pages, or (and this is my favorite) I’m trying to get information about a business (like I was looking for companies that handle canoeing in another state) and their only online presence is a FB page. So I click to go find out what rivers they cover or their rates, and I’m not allowed to see unless I sign in to my FB account. Really? Facebook can’t let people see anything they want but require sign in only for posting? I have to sign in using a friend’s account. (Shush–don’t say that out loud!). I should be able to participate in a discussion group without an account as long as I don’t post. The notion of needing to be identified is ridiculous, as they offer no protection and don’t control it except randomly whenever they become aware. Thanks for airing an important topic, Harmony–or whoever you are!

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I think these rules are meant to protect children from pedophiles, and tries to protect us from scams and other dangers. I’m not sure if this is a new rule or one that they’re enforcing more. That said, it shouldn’t apply to authors with pseudonyms no more than it applies to stage names. I do like Facebook in order to connect with family and friends from my hometown and around the country, and I like it for communicating with other authors about how-to sort of things. For advertising, not so much. I bet it doesn’t affect well-known authors or authors who are published through large publishing houses. I’ve always used my real name for my author name. I’d thought about using a pseudonym, but I was it would be too much of a hassle. I have other pages too, one for my husband’s art is on my account.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Wow! What a convoluted mess, Harmony! I mostly use FB for personal stuff and Twitter more for author stuff. But, I do have a personal FB page, an Author page, and a music page. I hope I never encounter what you did. What a nightmare! Thanks for sharing. .

    Liked by 3 people

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  10. What a bitter pill, Harmony, and all of your hard work. This makes me wonder if I should print a list of my followers and friends on each of my social media accounts in order to rebuild should something like this happen to me. However, I, too, use FB very sparingly and I don’t have a big following there. Now I’m glad that it’s the least used of my social media. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Oh, Linda, I can’t imagine losing my Twitter account … that has just under 21,000 followers! I can’t see a way to copy and save those, lols. I’ll have to Google it to see if there’s a way of backing it up. The common thread through all these comments is how people use FB sparingly … interesting stuff. Thanks, Linda 😊

      Liked by 2 people

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  12. Slow burn here. I’ll say it outright–I despise Facebook. Always have, always will. I have a presence there because it’s expected, but I never go there to socialize. I do run ads with success, but I’m honestly thinking of closing my FB account and finding another way of advertising. They’ve made changes that will likely make my ads less effective anyway. I think FB is horribly intrusive and I dislike their data gathering practices.

    Interesting that they say you should create a business page for a pseudonym. Unless things have changed, my understanding (and experience) is that you can’t have a business page without having a profile page first. Personally, I would love to ditch my profile and just have my author page.

    And how is a stage name different than a pen name? That hardly seems fair!!

    Liked by 5 people

  13. I was never enamored with FB. I am a candidate for the same treatment as you, but for a different reason. With our Story Empire group moving elsewhere, I find FB much easier to ignore. To me it’s another presence, but I don’t spend much time there.

    Liked by 6 people

  14. Like others, I don’t spend much time on F/B for the reasons expressed here, have been on F/B for years, have thousand+ friends.
    For any of my RRBC, RWISA, ASMSG, IAN, and other followers, I’m sorry if you’ve communicated with me on F/B – in short, I’m not a fan! My wife stays in touch with the kids on F/B, but I avoid it… Best wishes to all at ‘Story Empire’! ♥

    Liked by 6 people

  15. I’ll just be repeating what so many here have said (and what I’ve already told you in a separate communication) so I won’t add anything except another “I’m sorry” to this mix. I’m just glad we were able to transfer our group elsewhere to keep in touch.

    Liked by 6 people

  16. How frustrating for you. Sorry you had to go through it. I’m not a fan of Facebook. It’s hard to get posts seen on our pages, and there’s always so much noise over there. I hadn’t realized this about pen names though, so that’s good information to have. Thank you.

    Liked by 4 people

  17. Good Lord! This is why I’m so flakey on FB – when things go wrong or get complicated you’re sent on this wild goose chase to find out how to get it working again… I do have a pseudonym as well as my real name and had a terrible job trying to get some info on it put up. The only way I could do it was to create a page on my original account, which obviously ties in with the info you’ve uncovered. I have a foothold as Sian Glirdan now, but I feel really constrained about using it and I’ve had for a couple of years now. So, grudgingly, thank you FB for preserving my given I/D.

    I’ve belonged to several message boards/forums where they’ve completely banned multiple accounts as this gives trolls etc bolt holes to lurk and moulder away, so I guess it is good practice, but it still doesn’t feel ‘right’ for the pen name to not have centre stage, so to speak. Especially when it’s the pen name I’m mostly going to be using from on… 😦

    Liked by 4 people

    • The sad thing is that anyone who wanted to get up something below board would no doubt find it easy to circumvent this stuff the way things stand. It’s us honest folk who end up getting penalised. I’m glad you’ve finally gotten your Sian Glirdan ID sorted, Jan, and long may it continue 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  18. Thank you, so much, Harmony for sharing this. I suppose FB does this to protect their clients and business. They want to know who they are dealing with. We have had instances of people hiding behind pseudo names to harm other people’s reputation, and you know that FB is so invasive. Well, as we say, they own the business, they make the rules, and we can take it or leave it. I use FB very sparingly! 😩

    Liked by 3 people

    • Pointless rules, though, when they don’t require ID to make the account. I’ve been on Facebook for years without any issues until now. If I were a shady gal, lols, I could have gotten up to all sorts in that length of time. For this to be effective, they need to ask for proof of ID right from the get go. I don’t blame you for using FB sparingly, Joy. I’m definitely on the ‘leave it’ side of the road! All the best 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  19. Oh Harmony, I’m so sorry this happened to you. Thank you for warning other authors. I have never been on Facebook. I don’t have anything against it. I’m just afraid of falling down a rabbit hole and not being seen for days at a time. It often feels like I’m missing out, but after reading your post and others’ comments, maybe I’m not missing all that much.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Facebook was my first attempt at social media. I got into it because I had been in an online writing class and after it was over some of the members wanted to keep in touch and created a group. That group fizzled fast but I started getting friend requests from people I knew. Pretty soon I was sucked into the entire Facebook thing, later creating an author page and joining other groups.

    While I’m glad that it enables me to connect with people that I’ve otherwise lost contact with over the years as well as others, I’m fast losing interest. I’ll stay there, but I don’t think it does any good for book promotions, etc. And I don’t intend to pay them for ads. After the incident with you, I don’t go there as often. Just as well, I need to take social media breaks.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Like you, Facebook was my first foray into social media. I put a lot of work into it until the last year. More recently, I had begun having doubts, and this all just cemented that. I had noticed, as have others, that my page on those of my followers/friends were not showing on my timeline but got buried beneath stuff not relevant to me at all … I guess the visible pages are the ones paying the most money to advertise. I agree on the social media breaks, Joan. I try and have set times each day to catch up, otherwise it’s easy to spend too much time on there 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Sorry that you lost Facebook. That site is really going downhill for businesses and freelancers in terms of usefulness. The new algorithm makes it impossible for business pages to be seen, so I’m seeing a lot of authors, cosplayers, and others just give up. Even with friends, it doesn’t feel like anyone is interacting with each other beyond fighting. The place just isn’t as social and free as it once was. Maybe we’re looking at Facebook losing its appeal in general.

    Liked by 6 people

  22. Harmony, I’m so sorry this happened to you. Thank you for sharing this with the rest of us. You are right when you said that, if using the name on a birth certificate is a requirement to open an account, they should ask for ID at the beginning. One of my drag queen friends opened an account many years ago, and I can tell you that Midnight Star was NOT a legal name. Yet he opened his account, and there was no question about whether or not the name was real. I understand that they want to protect their customers against fraudulent people. However, if you can verify that you are an author or an entertainer who uses that name, I don’t see what the problem is. A couple of years ago there was an uproar concerning Facebook in reference to entertainers who are on Facebook under their stage names. Long story short, the stage name accounts were allowed to stay. We live in a world that allows people to be creative on almost every level. Singers, writers, performers: almost every form of artist is encouraged to reinvent themselves when it comes to their public persona. Most do this because, as you said, there are a lot of nut birds out there and it’s very easy to find people if you know their real name. Facebook is wrong in this situation. Very wrong.

    Liked by 5 people

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  25. I am sooooo sick of Facebook! I’ve maintained a personal page for over ten years, but I have enough family to populate a small metropolis so it works to keeps us all connected. I also know I have family members registered with the names of cartoon characters, and they’re NOT parody pages but personal pages. Get over yourself, FB!
    I linked an author page a couple of years ago…only because ALL the “EXPERTS” say a FB presence is a MUST! Meh.Whatever. Despite there being two billion registered users, FB only lets you see the same faces on repeat.
    I’ve used FB advertising and am pretty sure I’m done with that too. The kind of money they charge to be seen by a decent number of people is ridiculous and the money (TO ME) is better spent advertising across the Internet instead of just to FB.
    Sorry they took you through so much, Harmony. Between FB and Amazon, authors can get caught up in a lot of down time waiting for answers which never come.

    Liked by 4 people

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