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V is for this user's vendetta against Facebook

December 12, 2008 |  8:00 am

V For VendettaEveryone knows you on Facebook. The problem is, Facebook doesn't know you.

At least that was V Addeman's problem when he tried to sign up for the social networking site.

Recently laid off as a category analyst for convenience stores, Addeman, a 52-year-old grandfather from Costa Mesa who was already active on MySpace and LinkedIn, wanted another place to connect -- and reconnect -- with online friends.

Addeman says he's well aware that his first name -- a single letter -- is unusual. He picked it out himself. An aspiring writer, he thought it would look good someday on a book jacket. So he changed it legally.

But Facebook's automated system rejected his registration effort. Addeman complained but says he got the runaround from customer service. Then he was told he had to supply a valid government-issued ID.

He balked. "I shouldn't be forced to submit to additional verification if that's not a normal request for all Facebook users," he said. ...

... He eventually got an apology and an account from Facebook customer service: "In the course of our investigation we have determined that your use of 'V' does appear to be legitimate."

Facebook says it requires people to provide their real name and date of birth; the goal is to prevent users from impersonating others and to preserve the authenticity of the social network. So it blacklists names such as Donald Duck and George Clooney. Even Santa Claus had to prove his identity and couldn't exceed his friend limit.

And Facebook automatically rejects one-letter first names.

"I won my battle but I think the war is still going on," Addeman said. "I know I am not the only person in this situation."

Facebook says it has rejected or banned others because of their odd names, but very few for having one-letter first names.

"We want you to be who you are on Facebook," said Barry Schnitt, a spokesman for the Palo Alto company. "That requires some automated rules. Some of them are not perfect. But I would argue that requiring more than one letter for a first name is pretty darn close. It's an inconvenience for a few, but it makes sure that the site as a whole has the integrity of real name culture."

-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: "V for Vendetta." Credit: Juliana Malucelli / Warner Bros. Pictures