Defending defriending

The World

Facebook is defending its decision to defriend Chinese activist Michael Anti, saying his case is not the same as the dog of company founder Mark Zuckerberg — who has a "page" rather than a "profile" on the social networking site.

The journalist Anti (Zhao Jing), is internationally known by his pen name and served a fellowship at Harvard under it. Last month, Facebook deactivated his account without comment and cut off his ties to 1,100 friends on the site. We wrote about the development here on Monday, and Facebook's PR team e-mailed later to clarify that the case of Zuckerberg's dog is not the same.

"To be clear, Mark Zuckerberg created a Page, not a Profile for his new dog. Creating a Page–rather than a Profile–for Beast is exactly what we recommend for people to do in cases where they want to use Facebook as something other than their real self (e.g. their dog, their pen name, a fictional character, etc…)," wrote Johanna Peace of the OutCast agency.

"We fundamentally believe our real name culture leads to greater accountability and a safer environment for people who use the service," she added. "This view point has been developed by our own research and in consultation with a number of safety and child protection experts."

No word on Anti's pleas for a return to Facebook and his lost connections. And for the record, this reporter personally knows a Golden Retriever with a full Facebook profile (not a page). In the interest of protecting his friend count, we won't reveal his name.

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