Facebook's Fake Account Purge: The Cosplay Perspective

Obi-Wan Kenobi surely felt a disturbance in The Force today.  Within the last 24 hours, Facebook purged hundreds of "fake" users from its social networking empire.  Many geek girls and guys were caught in the crossfire- specifically, cosplayers.

"Cosplay" is short for "costume play."  Cosplayers dress as characters from sci-fi, fantasy, video games, and more.  These outfits are usually homemade, and worn to conventions where the effort is rewarded.   Many cosplayers used alternate Facebook accounts to display their art... until now.

Users with the false last name "Cosplay" have been purged.  Cosplayer Caleb A. lost "2 years' worth" of photos, memories, and friend connections.  He isn't alone...

Image courtesy of Ronald Ladao



- Facebook's last quarterly report revealed over 83 million fake profiles- 8.7% of users!  Aside from 46m duplicate accounts, this number contained pets, businesses, advertisers, bots, fake celebs, straight up creepers... the list goes on.

- Fake accounts are generally bad.  They throw off demographics, which throw off advertising, which throws off profit.  Aliases can also be used for criminal purposes.



- Facebook's naming policy has been in the Terms of Service all along.  I remember reading it when I first signed up in 2005.  Today, the policy reads:  "The name should be your real name as it would be listed on your credit card, Student ID, etc... Pretending to be anything or anyone is not allowed."  This was not the first purge.  Cosplayers weren't the only ones targeted.

-  Facebook is a free service.  It is neither a necessity nor a human right.

- Fan pages are still an option.  Cosplayer Katherine J. prefers this route.  She explains, "I think taking a day or two to back up the old personal account and resubmitting it to another type of page is a small price to pay in exchange for a tighter grip on some serious Facebook trolling."



- A cosplay account leaves the "real" account clean and professional.  In extreme situations, cosplayers may be avoiding a disapproving boss, conservative parents, or even bullying.  Says Caleb A., "Not everyone is pleased with our hobby and some frown upon it."

- Women, especially, get lots of attention for their outfits.  Cosplayer Katie G. "was having issues with over-abundant friend requests from other cosplayers and strangers."  Her cosplay account, which was disabled, allowed her to separate friends from fans.  She's threatening to leave Facebook altogether.

- No individualized warnings were sent.  "I feel like there should have been a more prominent notice," says Geek Girl Jess.  Ron L., cosplay photographer, calls the shut-down rate "out of control."



- There's a petition going around, for starters.

-You can also call Facebook's public phone number:  650-543-4800.  Leave a detailed message.

- Please, don't spread rumors.  For example, the idea that Facebook wants to charge users to create fan pages is unconfirmed.  Businesses can put down money to sponsor their posts, though.  Make of that what you will.

- There are other options for cosplay online.  Cosplay.comAmerican Cosplay Paradise, and CosplayLab are great places to share.  Now is also the perfect time to create your own website!

- If you're absolutely addicted to Facebook, be aware that the purge isn't universal; aliases without "Cosplay" in them are still standing.  Use this loophole at your own risk.



A lot of hard work was lost in one day- awful.  I do think Facebook should be targeting more destructive  and annoying fake accounts, or even inactive ones.  I don't, however, support alternate accounts as a way to avoid certain people.  I have one Facebook account.  It's locked, and I don't allow access to strangers.  I post cosplay pictures, but they are appropriate- things I wouldn't mind my grandma seeing.  If I meet someone in passing and don't want them "stalking" me online, I ignore them altogether.  I owe them nothing.

If the geek world learns one thing today, let it be this:  always read the fine print before clicking "I Agree."   It's up to us to know what we're signing off on, because let's be real here- Facebook hasn't been focused on user satisfaction... ever.

Here's my final rant:  This shouldn't even be an issue.  In an ideal world, employers wouldn't judge a candidate based on a costume.  Bullies wouldn't prey upon those who dress differently.  People wouldn't fret over their loved ones' sexual orientations or mental stability because of cosplay.  Facebook's policies aside, the human race really needs to grow.  Nobody should have to hide behind an alias in the first place.  If you really want to fight this, pick one of these larger causes, and sound off!


I now open the discussion to you, readers.  Should cosplayers get their accounts back?  Is Facebook in the right?  Post your insights below... and BE NICE!


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  • My daughter and her friends use "fake" middle names to distinguish themselves from others who might have the same names or just as an inside joke. Will they be affected, too?

    The thought of people losing their pictures is chilling! Our lives on Facebook have become our storage of photo albums.

  • In reply to siblingless:

    Hello! Are they using real first and last names? As long as it is clear that they are real people with only 1 account each, they should be fine.

    My "middle" name on Facebook is "Troppy"- also fake. I haven't been called on it, because it's nearly impossible to trace. "Cosplay" isn't a name, and was widely used, so it was an easy target.

    That said, please back up all of your photos and memories onto your hard drive. You never know what could happen!

  • In reply to Lauren “Troppy”:

    Yes, they are! Whew! I'm going to send them your post, just to make them aware. Thanks! ;-)

  • In reply to siblingless:

    Great! Thanks so much for reading. :)

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    I agree with your synopsis. Despite the frustration of lost accounts and the material they contained and the ire directed at Facebook, understand that Facebook is a free subscription service with rules and regulations that all participants are subject to.Facebook may have only pursued the 'cosplay' moniker because it was an easy target to flex it's 'Big Brother' muscle on as a warning to minimize what may be growing problem for the program. For those of you that actually know me personally know full well I don't use my Birth Certificate name but instead a pseudonym pen name I've had for close to 20 years. -And if my account gets deleted? Well, there's always MySpace...
    Personally, t's a bit annoying to hear such a loud outcry over FB deletions when drought is wiping out crops, West Nile is on the rise, the economy is struggling to get back on its knees, Health care, gas prices, and tuition are up while the stock market is down, and 'The Office is coming to a close this year after nine seasons. "But...But... it's my Facebook! They Deleted it! How Dare they!!" Suck it up. Want to know real pain and distress? Wait until you sign a 20-year mortage.

  • In reply to Zachara Shotobohan:

    Thanks for this! I was honestly expecting lots of cosplayers to post about the "injustice," as it's all I've been hearing on Facebook. It's great to hear from the other side. I also appreciate your notation of America's bigger issues, as that's immediately where my mind went, too.

    I appreciate you reading!

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    I am a cosplayer, I wasn't effected by the purge because I use my real name, I do under the Alt name have my Cosplay handle and I did set up a "fan" page where I put up cosplay stuff as well as other art work and crafts. I have been able to control who sees both my personal profile and the page. I did have to block some family from my account but that wasn't just about cosplay. I do have a few friends that got hit by the purge, but only thing I hear from them is that they would have liked a warning first and a chance to "fix" the accounts before they got deleted.

  • In reply to Jacqueline Miller:

    Great to hear from a fellow cosplayer!

    Sounds like you have your personal situation to your liking, and under control. And yes, the desire for a warning seems to be a pretty universal sentiment. I think that would have been nice of Facebook, too, but in the end, they have no legal obligation as their Terms of Service are clear. Such a shame for all of the folks who lost work!

    Checked out your website. Can't believe you made a costume for a horse! Very cool.

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    In reply to Lauren “Troppy”:

    Yeah, for the most part I got it under control :) . Thank you about the horse cosplay, I have plans to remake the dragon costume for him and make it better.

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    So as it seems, people can get their accounts by petitioning Facebook. One of my friends got hers back.

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    Cosplayer Nation: The Documentary which had over 3000 fans on our Cosplay Nation profile, was affected. Another fb profile affected was the Cosplay ComCom convention in Mexico, though they have a fan page now. During this most frustrating time, we broadcast this video to show what we have done to Appeal (and any updates from facebook). Please read the youtube comments, they are also important.

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