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How to Change Your Name on Facebook

Posted by Sydney on April 13, 2017

Changing your name on Facebook is both easier and harder than you’d think. Facebook has long required people to use their legal names. This somewhat unforgiving policy when it comes to profile names has landed them some negative press.

In 2011, world-renowned author Salman Rushdie had his account deactivated and was asked to prove his identity in order to get it back. The account was eventually reinstated but under Rushdie’s legal first name, Ahmed. Despite being known personally and professionally by his middle name, Rushdie was unable to convince the social media giant to change his profile until Facebook saw some public backlash to their practice.

These days, Facebook still requires users to use their true names, with minor exceptions. They have long maintained that people are more accountable to their words and actions when forced to act under their real identity. Facebook requires them to do so in an effort to foster an online environment where users feel secure. There’s just one problem. While the steps for changing your name are rather straight-forward, you might find yourself roadblocked by Facebook’s name policies. This guide will show you how to change a profile name and walk you through the naming rules you’re expected to follow.

Why Change Your Name At All?

If Facebook only wants your legal name, what’s the point in allowing people to change it at all? In truth, there are a handful of instances where users might want or need to make changes. For example:

  • Your legal name changes due to marriage or divorce.
  • Your legal name changes as part of a gender reassignment.
  • You want to use an acceptable form of your legal name (i.e. your first two initials and last name).
  • You weren’t using your true name before and somehow managed to fly under Facebook’s radar.

Whatever your reasons, the steps for getting the job done are pretty simple.

How to Change Your Facebook Profile Name

Facebook lays out the steps quite succinctly in their FAQ. We’ve shared them with you below.

1. Log in to your Facebook account.

2. Click the upside down arrow symbol in the top right of the screen (directly right of the Help icon).

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3. Select Settings.

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4. Select General in the column to the left.

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5. You should be looking at basic account information. Click on your name at the top.

6. Edit your name in the provided fields.

7. Click Review Change.

8. Enter your password when prompted.

9. Click Save Changes.

And there you have it. Your name change must be approved by Facebook before it registers on your account. This can take up to 24 hours.

Why Was My Name Change Rejected?

Facebook may not approve the change for a variety of reasons. Let’s say you did your research and know for a fact that your name falls within their guidelines. Why else might they be stopping the change?

  • You may be changing your name too frequently. Facebook requires at least 60 days to pass between name changes, regardless of the validity of those names.
  • You’ve previously been asked to confirm your name on Facebook using ID. If Facebook has suspected your account before, they might look for proof before approving the change.
  • If they have asked you for identification, the ID provided may not match their list of acceptable identification.

Whatever the reason, don’t sweat it. Facebook isn’t out to get you. They want your profile to be safe and accurate for you and your friends. Chances are you’ll be able to get the name change resolved with time.

Facebook Name Guidelines and Rules

So, what names are allowed on Facebook? The more accurate question is what names aren’t allowed. Facebook has a detailed list of items that names can’t be or have. Make sure your new name doesn’t have any of the following:

  • Special characters (like, $, #, or @).
  • Unusual punctuation, spacing, or capitalization. What “unusual” means might be up for debate. You’ll need to hash that out with Facebook.
  • Characters from more than one language.
  • Titles (like Dr, Prof, or Sir). Even if the title is legitimate, Facebook doesn’t want it.
  • Words or phrases that are obviously not names. This is left up to the discretion of the person reviewing your change request.
  • Offensive words.
  • Joint names. This does not refer to hyphenated names. This basically means that two people can’t share a profile.
  • Names with all the vowels removed.
  • Repeating characters. We presume this means having a letter repeated an unusual number of times (like Aneglaaaaaaa).

Of course, some names have odd capitalization or punctuation. Some names might even legally contain special characters (although, you might want to talk to your parents about that one). Does that mean Facebook just doesn’t like your name? There’s a good a chance Facebook will make an exception for you if you provide acceptable ID proving that your name looks exactly the way you’ve spelled it. In the meantime, they have some other guidelines to help users choose the right name for their account.

  • Pick the name your friends call you. Really, this means pick the name you’re known by (like Salman Rushdie). If your name is Susan and your friends call you Bacon, you’re probably not going to get that approved.
  • Nicknames are OK, but only variations on your real name. In other words, Bacon is out, but Susie is in.
  • Never pretend to be anyone you’re not. Avoid fake celebrity accounts. Avoid even just making accounts for your pets.
  • Always use your full last name. Facebook won’t accept fake or abbreviated surnames. However, if you want to, say, just have initials in front of your surname, that could be OK.

Second Names and Professional Accounts

Let’s say your name is Jeffrey Miller, but your nightly DJ name is “Dr. Spinz-a-lot.” If you’re forced to use Jeffrey Miller as your account profile name, how are your fans going to know who you are? You can get your DJ name out there in one of two ways. Either you associate your DJ name with your personal account by adding a second name to the account (this can be a maiden name, professional name, etc) or you create a professional Facebook page for your DJ alter ego and leave your personal account personal. Adding a second name to your account is almost as easy as adding the first, and the naming rules are far more lax.

1. Log in to your Facebook account.

2. Go to your profile page.

3. Click About beneath your banner photo.

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4. Click Details About You on the left-hand side.

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5. Locate the section labeled Other Names.

6. Click on the blue link that reads, “Add a nickname, a birth name…

7. Select the Name Type from the drop-down.

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8. Type the name.

9. Check the box if you want the name to display next to your full name on your profile.

10. Click Save Changes.

Now everyone will know that Jeffrey Miller and DJ Spinz-a-lot are one in the same.

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