PRESCOTT, Ariz. — Facebook is one of the most popular social media services around, but an Arizona couple says Facebook has banned them from using the site.
The man’s name is Boa, short for Balizar Orion Avatar. Boa said his name is very special to him.
“My dad told me that my name in Sanskrit is ‘May the Lord protect the king, son of light in deity human form,’” Avatar said.
But Avatar said it’s his last name with which Facebook all of a sudden has a big problem. He said the social networking service recently deleted his Facebook page.
Why? Facebook does not believe Avatar is his real name.
“I was confused, frustrated, and I was just kind of done,” Avatar said.
Avatar and his wife, Audry, are upset and hurt that Facebook believes he fabricated his birth-given name.
“I fell in love with his name just as much as I fell in love with him,” Audry said, explaining that Facebook is giving her the same problem.
She wants to change her maiden name to her married name, Avatar, but she said Facebook hasn’t let her.
“I think it’s discrimination, fully,” she said. “I mean I have a special last name; I’m married to a special man.”
So, what’s the problem with the name Avatar? Well, Boa and Audry believe it has to with a few things, including the blockbuster 2009 movie called “Avatar.”
The science fiction movie was written and directed by James Cameron and focused blue extraterrestrials.
It was a huge success, and “Avatar 2” is set to be released in 2017.
As a result, Avatar said he and his wife are being forced to provide their driver licenses and other documents proving that Avatar is their name.
“I think they need to get off their high horse and realize you’re just social media,” Audry said.
Avatar said he feels the same way.
“I feel like I’m getting singled out, me and my wife,” he said. “I really do.”
3 On Your Side contacted Facebook to find out exactly why it has concerns about the name Avatar.
A Facebook representative replied with a promise to look into the matter.
As for Boa and Audry, they said they feel the situation is bizarre but continue to have a sense of humor about it.
“I’m not blue, so, and I’m not gigantic,” Audry said.
“I actually did think about calling James Cameron or trying to get a hold of James Cameron and being like, ‘Ya know, man, my last name’s Avatar and I’m taking a lot of grief from your movie. Maybe some compensation would be much appreciated,’” Avatar said with a laugh.
Facebook got back to 3 On Your Side and explained that several words and names are flagged as being suspicious for having fake accounts. It just so happens that Avatar is one of those names.
The company said it is working on getting the Avatars’ Facebook pages up and running.
“We are committed to ensuring that all members of the Facebook community can use the names that they use in real life,” a Facebook representative said in a statement. “Having people use their authentic names makes them more accountable, and also helps us root out accounts created for malicious purposes, like harassment, fraud, impersonation and hate speech. Over the last several months, we’ve made some significant improvements in the implementation of this standard, including enhancing the overall experience and expanding the options available for verifying an authentic name. We have more work to do, and our teams will continue to prioritize these improvements.”