Why Some Native Americans Say Facebook Is Biased Against Them

Many Native Americans are having their accounts deactivated over their names.

And many feel it's a subtle form of racism and marginalization that may not be intentional but needs to be fixed, Vienna Elk Looks Back told ABC News.

"It's very upsetting to me," Elk Looks Back said. "I feel this is harassment and another form of racism us Native Americans are facing, especially considering there are a lot of actual fake accounts, but here we are being targeted for our real names."

The identity confirmation process can be tedious and also brings up concerns about privacy, said Dana Lone Hill. She is another Native American woman whose account was deactivated when she tried to change her last name to "Lone Elk" to preserve her father's last name and Lakota identity, Lone Hill told ABC News.

"It seems so sketchy, and I didn't feel comfortable sending some of the stuff," Lone Hill said. "Facebook already feels so creepy. They have facial recognition software that suggests who to tag in photos, and it's hard to trust them with all your information."

"I don't want to have to prove who I am," Lone Hill said. "Katy Perry's 'Left Shark' has a page. It just seems like they could go after fake accounts instead of kicking Native Americans off who are real."

Lone Hill's account was deactivated for a week this month before she finally got access back, she said.

Both Elk Looks Back and Lone Hill signed an online petition asking Facebook to allow them to use their native names. The petition has over 12,500 supporters.

A Facebook spokesperson told ABC News that the company is aware of many Native Americans' concerns and is working hard to resolve the issue.

“We are committed to ensuring that all members of the Facebook community can use the authentic names that they use in real life," the Facebook spokesperson said. "Having people use their authentic names makes them more accountable, and also helps us root out accounts created for malicious purposes, like harassment, fraud, impersonation and hate speech."

"We have more work to do, and our teams will continue to prioritize these improvements so everyone can be their authentic self on Facebook," the spokesperson said.

"While I'm sure Facebook didn't mean to marginalize Native Americans, the messages I was getting reinforced the idea our names and personalities don’t meet the U.S.' 'standards,'" he said. "It's a subtle way of excluding us, and we already have a long history of erasure and racism against us in this country."

He eventually got his account back up, and a personal apology, but Creepingbear said he hopes Facebook offers a more public apology to Native Americans such as one last October addressed to drag queens who had similar issues not being able to use the names they use in their daily lives.

"The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life," Facebook's chief product officer Chris Cox wrote in October. "For Sister Roma, that's Sister Roma. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that's Lil Miss Hot Mess."