Chinese blogger known by his pseudonym Michael Anti is taking aim at a new target, openly challenging Facebook, a company that is known for, among other things, being blocked in China.
A Nanjing native whose legal name is Zhao Jing (赵静), Anti is journalist and political blogger, recognized for his posts about freedom of the press in China.
Changing his usual discourse a bit, Anti has made headlines across the web in the last few days for asking Facebook, "why he is less worthy of a Facebook account than company founder Mark Zuckerberg's dog," according to Global Post.
In an interview on Tuesday, Anti told the press that his Facebook account was canceled in January. The reason Facebook offered via email was that the company had a policy of not allowing users to operate under pseudonyms.
Anti's argument -- other than if Zuckerberg's dog can have an account, he should be allowed one as well -- is that his professional pen name of Michael Anti has been established for over 10 years, and that he is widely published under the name.
"I'm really, really angry. I can't function using my Chinese name. Today, I found out that Zuckerberg's dog has a Facebook account. My journalistic work and academic work is more real than a dog," said Anti to the press.
In the same press conference, Anti told reporters that Chinese writers and journalists have historically used pen names, in part to ensure their safety, and that Facebook's requirement of people's real name, could put those voices in danger.
"We fundamentally believe our real name culture leads to greater accountability and a safer environment for people who use the service," responded Johanna Peace The OutCast agency, which represents Facebook, to Global Post. "This view point has been developed by our own research and in consultation with a number of safety and child protection experts."
The debate has a similar ring to the one in China last year as the government tested it own real name registration system (RNR) for web users to try and curb what it deemed, improper uses of the Internet. Chinese netizens would be required to enter their national ID card number to use popular news and Internet portals as well as before posting on online forums or using Chinese social media sites in any form.
Adding a layer to the Anti Facebook debate is the fact that the company has been blocked in China since the mid noughties, and has mainly been replaced with domestic-based clones like RenRen, which had 170 million registered users at the end of 2010. The majority of Facebook's 14 million Chinese-language users are located in Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Seems Anti might need to settle for a RenRen account.