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Facebook Bans Fake North Korea, But Not Fake Nicolas Sarkozy

More on the North Korea/social media story, which I blogged about yesterday. This from Bloomberg:

Facebook Inc., owner of the world’s largest social-networking website, said it deleted two accounts that purported to be from North Korea. “If a person poses as a person or entity that you don’t officially represent, that becomes a violation of our policy,” said Kumiko Hidaka, a Facebook spokeswoman. “Facebook is based on real people that are on there making connections and people are going to get the most value of the site if they’re using real identities.”

Last week, the North Korean account had only 65 friends and the profile suggested the country was interested in men. Probably not the real deal then.

The problem is that Facebook is pretty inconsistent about who it bans and who it doesn't -- and why. It might have made more sence if the reason given was that North Korea, as a country under embargo by the United States, is forbidden from engaging in commercial activities on Facebook.

But the explanation given to Bloomberg by Facebook doesn't really make much sense. There are scores of people/accounts posing as prominent public figures or entities on Facebook. Just search for French President Nicolas Sarkozy or Czech President Vaclav Klaus (see the screenshots).

Blogger Jillian C. York has written about such inconsistencies when she found that Facebook was blocking the word Palestinian from its Pages. Facebook responded and said it was a result of "an anomaly in an automated system." But there are countless other examples: for instance the recent scandal in the U.K. over whether Facebook would remove the fan page of a murderer.

It can't be easy for Facebook, though. Any automated system will always be flawed and easy to game. And you would need a billion-strong army of interns to police it manually. But I don't think Facebook helps itself when its explanations seem to be so full of holes.

Regardless, will the real North Korea please stand up?