Reminder: On Social Media, You Don’t Own Your Name

“What a heavy burden is a name that has become too famous." - Voltaire

My name is Dave Davies. I share this name with a member of the band The Kinks. As one of the most influential bands of all time (their first hit was “You Really Got Me” in 1964) that Dave Davies is far more notable than the one writing this post.

How would I react if I received a letter from his lawyer telling me that my name had been officially change to ‘Dave Richardson’ because … as was made famous in the movie Highlander …

There Can Be Only One

Well that’s exactly the situation that Kevin Keiley found himself in …

Instagram Took Away His Name

A fan of the football club (that’s soccer to us on this side of the pond), Reading FC – he used the Instagram username @sussexroyal for three years.

The problem, it seems, is twofold:

1 – he didn’t post often, using the account mostly to like and follow others, and (more importantly)
2 – Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (the Duke and Dutchess of Sussex) liked it

And as The Verve reported, Instagram has a team looking to create stars. And here they had a star wanting to be there.

And so, without warning, they were given the name and Kevin awoke to discover he was now @_sussexroyal_.

What’s arguably worse is that he was never informed they wanted it, nor was he informed of the name change, it simply was. In fact, he found out about it when his son sent him a text which read:

“Ha ha, I see your handle has gone then”

It Seems To Have Gone Well For Instagram

It seems to have gone well for Instagram. The royals smashed records, crossing over 1 million followers in about 8 hours and sitting at the time of this writing at almost 4 million.

sussexroyal on Instagram

How Can Instagram Do That?

Instagram has a documented policy allowing them to deactivate inactive accounts. The problem, however, is that they are pretty loose in their wording around what ‘inactive’ means. They write:

“An account is determined to be inactive based on a number of things, including the date the account was created and whether the account has been sharing photos, commenting on photos, liking photos and logging in.

Keep in mind that you may not be able to tell whether an account is currently inactive since not all account activity can be seen by the public.”


That’s pretty vague.

A Reminder To Us All

This needs to serve as a huge reminder to us all that we do not own our presence on social media properties. Companies own them and are simply letting us use our chosen identities.

Letting us … that is … until something better comes along.